I’m in a slump now; I’ve not written anything since “Car lights” two weeks ago and I’m not even fully happy with that. I used to get really discouraged, like I wasn’t really a writer if I didn’t write everyday, or at least weekly. But then I read Raymond Carver’s “Work” and “Drinking While Driving,” and like most of Ray’s work, I treated them like our dialogue.
for John Gardner, d. September 14, 1982
Love of work. The blood singing
in that. The fine high rise
of it into the work. A man says,
I’m working. Or, I worked today.
Or, I’m trying to make it work.
Him working seven days a week.
And being awakened in the morning
by his young wife, his head on the typewriter.
The fullness before work.
The amazed understanding after.
Fastening his helmet.
Climbing onto his motorcycle
and thinking about home.
And work. Yes, work. The going
to what lasts.
It’s been awhile since I’ve read “Work,” and this is my first reading after taking on a second job and working seven days a week. It has a different meaning tonight; I feel older. Yes, that has a good feeling, but I feel I’ve been too distracted or too excusing to work as hard as Carver did. But I still believe that I can only work (write) when it comes to me, and I know I’ve had some months in my life when all I did was work. It’s not any better or worse – it’s just “work.”
“Drinking While Driving”
It’s August and I have not
Read a book in six months
except something called The Retreat from Moscow
Nevertheless, I am happy
Riding in a car with my brother
and drinking from a pint of Old Crow.
We do not have any place in mind to go,
we are just driving.
If I closed my eyes for a minute
I would be lost, yet
I could gladly lie down and sleep forever
beside this road
My brother nudges me.
Any minute now, something will happen.
I mistakenly remembered this reading “I have not written anything in six months,” but that doesn’t matter: “Any minute now, something will happen.”
Jen worked on a poem, a new form that destroys one word and explores all of its possible meanings. It came out really well. Not to try and trump her, but it reminded me of a section for the epic form of “This City Anew” that I wrote last year – a new form I called “say say” (which left me with the Wings’ song stuck in my head for ages). “When the earth grinds the sky,” like all of the other sections of “This City Anew,” is meant to be possible on its own. I’ve always felt that it was the most standalone (apart from the titular section) of the pieces.
Oddly, the first “say say” I wrote was about Raymond Carver. I was flying back from Missouri with my family and I showed it to my brother. I remember his eyes lighting up. I need to hold on to that. When I dig it up, I will post it.