Random Thoughts: Memorial Day Weekend Edition

sun

  • Memorial Day Weekend. It gets quiet around here. People leave for the Cape. First, for the stop-and-go traffic heading to the Cape. Eventually for the stop-and-go traffic returning from the Cape. All this for sand in your bathing suit and a sunburn.
  • Nota bene: You can get sunburned on your back patio. No gas, no traffic, no sand reading True Grit in your bathing suit. Free, free, free!
  • In the past year, Poetry magazine has had issues featuring poets from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and more, greatly increasing a poet from those countries’ chances of publication (from 1 in 1,000,000,000 to 1 in 1,000) in a particular issue. I’m waiting for Poetry to dedicate an issue to Irish-Polish-Scottish-English poets. As Robert Frost once said, “Advantages make good neighbors.”
  • Speaking of Poetry, I seem to read the covers more than the insides of the covers lately, and I’m a big fan of their recent trend of designing every cover around variations of design and color for letters in the word POETRY. When I’m tired (read: frequently), I look at it and get mixed results: Edgar Allan POE, pot, try, port, opt, rope, toe, top. What I don’t see but should: STOP!
  • Statistical quirk #1: Maybe The Evil Empire (read: Google) has made my post called “W.S. Merwin’s ‘Remembering Summer'” one of its top links for searchers on their search engine. Hits on this blog have been mounting like stop-and-go traffic for the Cape lately because of it. (Could this mean Darth Vader is my father?)
  • Statistical quirk #2: According to The Almost-As-Evil Empire (read: Amazon) stats under Books>Literature & Fiction>Poetry>Regional & Cultural>United States, sales for Lost Sherpa of Happiness have jumped from 176,098 to 15,754 in recent weeks. Maybe my poems have finally arrived, finally been discovered by some for-hire sherpa. Or maybe I need to be pinched: I woke up as W.S. Merwin. In a Google Search algorithm. With a hot new book of poetry.
  • Sad how death can push book sales. I’m thinking of Philip Roth, who died last week. Incredibly, I’ve only read one of this books (Goodbye, Columbus), and that some 30 years ago. After reading many articles of praise after his death, I have vowed to read the first Zuckerman book, The Ghost Writer.
  • Speaking of reading, after years and years of doing so, I no longer read one book at a time. My new modus operandi is to have one prose book and one poetry book going at all times. Poets read poetry. Every day. They write them, too. Bad or good. Every day.
  • We are less than a month away from the summer solstice on June 21st. Here’s what’s weird about that day: It’s the longest day of the year, BUT it’s also called “Midsummer Night” by the dreamers (and bards) of the world as if it’s the height and not the start of summer.
  • Irony: Most school kids are just getting out of school for a summer vacation where the days are already beginning to get shorter, giving validity to my mother-in-law’s famous line, “It’s all downhill after the Fourth of July.” She was a teacher. She knew of what she spoke.
  • I met a friend last week who told me his strategy when reading the news these days. He skips any article with the word “Trump” in the headline. “I haven’t missed anything,” he said. “Really! It’s all smoke and mirrors on that front.” (Editor’s Note: And a few other things.)
  • As a reader and a poet, don’t you always keep thinking there are writers of prose and verse you have yet to discover, ones who will really resonate with you, ones whose words will become your soul brothers (and sisters), ones who will become your favorites forever and ever? This is a necessary hope in every reader’s life.
  • While reading Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Spring a few weeks back, I noticed his recommendation of Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees and picked a copy up. I love it when favorite writers recommend favorite books, don’t you?
  • Because it is the last standing brick and mortar bookstore for millions of people living far away from the independent Mom & Pop bookstores of the cities, Barnes & Noble needs your support (read: orders) every once in a while. Where would you be without their bookstores to walk in and browse in every once in a while? (Rhetorical question)
  • Because it’s Memorial Day weekend, a time to remember fallen soldiers who fought and died for their country, we should reflect on George McGovern’s quote about unjust wars (and boy, do they exist, then and now): “I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”
  • For those of you wondering (all one of you), I am 33 poems into Manuscript #3 (a.k.a. Work in Progress).
  • I’ve noticed that my taste for reading poems that fit on one page is reflected in my habit of writing poems that fit on one page. When I see an 8-page poem in a book, I tend to say, “Hoo-boy!” then take a deep breath before diving in, hoping to come up for breath at the other end of the Olympic-sized swimming pool.
  • Sometimes I come up halfway across.
  • So there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!

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