For a Teacher

Six forty.

I had a little malfunction with my medication for a while but now I’m back on track. I can hardly wait to use my next Peter Pauper journal, the cover design is so pretty. The image is called “Mystic Moon.” Soon I will spoil its virgin pages with the scope of my thought and probably never get anywhere; no kind of revelation that lasts more than a day. Right now I’m stuck on the problem of logic versus poetic language. If you think like a positivist, then what do you do with poetry, unless poetry is grounded in reality like with Carlos Williams? I haven’t looked at Richard Hugo’s poetry in a very long time, but I remember how dense and difficult it was. The difficulty was not due to being abstract at all, but rather the diction was quite deliberate and unexpected, original at every point, with lots of adjectives. The method of contemporary poetry is much different from Romanticism and Modernism. It cuts down all abstracts and employs details to evoke emotion in the reader. Or anyway, that’s what I was taught in my last writing workshop. It’s a lesson I mostly disregard nowadays, though maybe heeding it would benefit my writing today. And I owe this learning to Ellen, wherever she is now. She reminds me that American poetry didn’t end with the Modern movement. 

Morning Minutiae

Seven thirty.

While I was at the store I heard three old tunes on the radio that Cathy had on for background noise: the bands were the Chili Peppers, John Cougar, and Journey. Cathy wore a sloppy green sweater that looked good on her today. She is very adept with the price scanner, hitting the barcodes of the items in your hand unerringly, like something uncanny. It must be a right brain thing for her, but she didn’t remember very well about the Journey song, which happened to be “Separate Ways,” from the album Frontiers, released in 1983. My memory for the dates of events and things is probably a left brain kind of faculty. I hovered in front of the pet snacks for a minute, trying to decide among the different sizes of milk bones. They were also priced differently, which made no sense at all. You can slice a pizza into eight pieces or twelve, but it’s the same amount of food either way. Or you can scrap the whole thing and make applesauce. There are some birds cheeping outside my front window, and it’s cloudy right now, a gray and ordinary morning. I’ve always liked Cathy, though we don’t know each other beyond seeing each other at her workplace. She’s certainly catty with the barcode scanner. 

Our Neighborhood

Seven o’clock.

Aesop is still very tired from yesterday, when he had to wait in the backyard until our work was done. It’s been drizzling off and on; I took my umbrella to the store with me at the first light of day. Now it’s gray and overcast and kind of blah, though it’s warmer than usual and I can hear human activity even this early. Michelle said that a New Yorker hit the lottery jackpot and I said good for them while I scanned the macaroni salads in the deli cooler. By the way, yesterday, Gloria really enjoyed the kiwi strawberry Snapple I got for her. Before this Sunday I have to buy a broom at Bi Mart. Might as well get a dustpan while I’m at it… I don’t really have any abstract notions to express today. Perhaps at the bottom of it there are no abstractions, no big questions; only the details we’re given to work with. These ought to be enough for people. Aesop looks at me inquiringly for his breakfast, so I tell him 58 minutes. Then he gets up and drinks his water. Presently it begins to rain gently. A train horn makes a mournful sound, like the song of a humpback whale that carries underwater for miles. I left my umbrella propped up against the side of the house outdoors. In this neighborhood, no one would think to steal it. 

Details

Nine ten.

From everything I’ve read, it looks like the approach to transcendence is the same for the drug addict as it is for the poet or the priest. Getting high either way involves inebriation of a sort, a disengagement of the intellect in order to experience something beyond the known world. I’ve been stuck on the problem of reality and illusion for a long time, and still can’t come to a conclusion. My realism might be naive, yet most people can agree on what’s real. Just when I think I’m sick of Romanticism, something pulls me back to it like the undertow of the surf… 

The hike to the store was kind of nice today. There were two Mexican guys ahead of me in line, masked with bandannas. But again I observed that no women were in the market except for Michelle. The credit card reader beeped extremely loudly because the mute under it was removed. A customer had spilled a full 44 ounce Pepsi all over the countertop, drenching everything. There was a fresh supply of peanut butter treats for dogs, so I grabbed a couple. The sun through the front door blared right in Michelle’s eyes so she had to visor her face. I notice that I’m overdue for a haircut. And either today or tomorrow I have to run to Bi Mart to pick up my prescription. While I’m there I might as well buy a new pair of jeans. I have a hole in the heel of my right sock. If any of these details should prove to be significant, I’ll be the last person to know. But sometimes it’s better to leave the particulars alone, without induction. This being said, I needn’t have said it.