one of my daughters arranged pine cones on the table in a kind of cross (see picture), and asked me if it was pretty. yes, i said without hesitation. later i doctored up the picture with the "posterize" function, but it was the same even without it. what was pretty was merely having five pine cones around to arrange on a table. another thing that was pretty was that it was an outdoor patio table, and one could sit out there in the cool mountain air, and enjoy the patio. and the last thing that was pretty was that there was a pen on the table, but the pen didn't write; it was out of ink, and only i knew that, and didn't have another pen, so i was forced to take a little break.
now it's back to work, and lubbock is in the nineties every day, and i walk to work and walk back, and sometimes the heat seems a little excessive. it's like i have heat stroke, even though the nineties is not really all that bad, and in fact, because it's dry, it was a joy for the first year or two that i was here. now, i find it painful. i miss the mountains. i take three showers a day. i find myself wanting to wash off all the stress and business of work, and i'm uncomfortable in my work clothes.
figuring out how to move up into the mountains might be a little difficult. in fact, we're all kind of settled here, especially the four kids, aged 7-13, who all have various friends and a pretty good educational situation. there are things about lubbock i like - a lot of them, in fact, including the school, but the big thing is that we make our living here. the checks roll in. we have to be here to go to work. we haven't either of us figured out how not to.
we are, however, working on it. i am about to publish another collection of stories, though i haven't quite finished publicizing the last one. i have ideas for other things to write, and if i really get them out there, it could succeed; one can only hope. a friend of mine writes about moving into the persona of "author" as if one can willingly just be a good writer, but as far as my will goes, i'm having more luck being a fiddler. and i could get that job fiddling at the old ranch in new mexico; every night, a couple hundred tourists come in, you feed them, you give them a show in which the sheriff shoots some people dead on the main street of the old town, and they turn out to be not dead; you find a way to perform and keep performing, or, stick with teaching until the sun goes down. i write; i try to use my 25% time to crank out something, and sometimes, i do ok at it. i feel like i'm not getting any worse at it, anyway.
the poetry is another story. in better times, i can crank out five, six, ten in a day. times like now, i'm a little burnt out and not cranking out much of anything. i'll go and print thirty pages of total poetry, and begin narrowing it down, marking what appeared last year, what i need to work on, what is no longer 5-7-5 by my own evolving definitions. usually, in the process of going over it, i get inspired again. there is a lot i can do to mix it up. but one other thing i've noticed; they say only one out of a hundred people even reads poetry these days. i suspect it's even less. i give the book to relatives, along with the stories, and they'll read the stories. for the most part, i'm talking to myself, and it's very rare that i find anyone who has actually read even part of it. and there are a lot fewer words! you just have to be in a frame of mind to tackle poetry, to really hear it.
one thing i can do is make it a little more earthy, a little more visual, a little more so it pushes you along through the seasons or wherever it chooses to push you. ideally if it works, you pick it up and you can't put it down. and it doesn't matter what state you pick it up in; i envision people starting with their own state, for example, being unable to start anywhere except texas, since they are most familiar with texas. so i try to make each state complete; i try to make it so you can start at any given one, and it will still take you for a whirl, through the seasons. i try to make it so, when you're done with your own state, you'll give the next one a try.
musically i'm having the time of my life. i play just enough bluegrass so that, as i walk through town, i hear the songs. i don't know them all well; i'm a rather poor fiddler in my ability to just pull them out of thin air, or even know how they start. but i hear every note, and i've gotten to where i can play most of them, adequately, as well. it's fantastic.
with the autobiography, it's my goal to get both autobiography and short-story collection done by christmas. i would then have something to give everyone besides poetry that they don't read. but hey, one thing about poetry is, it isn't going anywhere. if it has to wait twenty years before someone picks it up and reads it, so be it. if it's good, it'll still be good. if it says something, it'll still say it, only within the folds of yellowing paper, in a different decade. i need to make it so it will reach out of that decade, or wherever it is, and have a kind of timeless quality. it's a lofty goal.
so the question about the picture is: should i crop out the pen? it just happened to be there, and, as i said, it didn't write anyway, so it wasn't about to be used. but only i know that, and to others, it's out of place. the fine evergreen pine needles, they work against the background of the table and the little wood fence with the same pattern. it's obviously natural patterns against man-made patterns. but the pen is a kind of interloper, and it is a very pointed one, at that, so to speak. ah, doesn't matter, i don't have to decide today.