I am just another face, another day, saying, what.
What I am most interested in when I take pictures, whether of myself, landscapes or other subject matter, is contextualizing the light & balancing the shadows. I find repetitions of all kinds extremely satisfying (& sometimes maddening). In this photo it is the lines on the sweater, the railings, the hair and even the rays that, in echoing each other, make for an engaging montage. Then too, there is a melancholy in the gaze, the sunset, the rust.
From the shore, a few dark boats.
The ocean with its shushshushshush to all that’s past.
Tonight I dreamed of your return.
Nothing new in this but the lessened pain.
Sometimes I ask what more can I give
You’ve been gone so long now.
And still the time of salt retreats and in its place
I wait within the long life line of mountains.
Sonnet on You Not
So I am still in the world of things
& you not, no longer needing to select
the latest brand of cereal or car,
to choose whether to sit on chair or couch,
use a glass or mug, the thousand everyday
moments of purchase & desire, now I am
left in the world of things while you
have lifted beyond the weight of coverlets
& seatbelts & the body, that even in loving,
how heavy it can be, yes you are unclothed
and outside of your cartilage & skin & all
that bric-a-brac of bones; you have flown
into the lightness where dust & the dream
conjoin and I am left behind, another thing
in the world of things.
Sacrifice. What does this mean in the context of an artist’s life. I don’t think we ponder this question much anymore, finding it absurdly self-aggrandizing, or moot. It’s definitely out of fashion, this word or concept, like soul, beauty, truth. If one thinks of a writer’s path these days, thoughts will circle mostly around the writer as teacher, taking it almost for granted that the path of being an artist will be much less awkward than that of a serial killer or chronic seducer, ie. there will only be this dirty little secret of wanting to write to hide, or to translate into more acceptable forms (a paycheque, a blockbuster novel), but not much else in the way of suffering. Perhaps notions of a kind of martyrdom for art swirl in my head due to the fact I was raised on tales of the Catholic saints, who were always becoming disfigured, or flagellating themselves or being otherwise tortured for a higher ideal. My ideal has just always been making beauty from language, sometimes musical notes or other more tangible materials, than any god. What have I sacrificed to continue to write, tour books, be held captive by muses in this society that so devalues art? I don’t really want to talk about this. Suffice to say it has been material, emotional, psychological and status-based. No one asked me to do this, no. I was driven; I am driven. I never questioned my pursuit of poetry then and now when I do, it is too late. My life is too utterly in its grip, or embrace if you prefer. Still, choosing a way of being in the world doesn’t eradicate the necessity of sacrifice, of determining to turn from one entity or system of beliefs in order to create one’s “higher offering”. And this is not to glorify the artist. To be honest, at times the sacrifices just make us dirtier, lonelier, more foolish. Still, creating art is a sacred calling. I will never cease believing that. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t a deep sorrow at the core that there has been hurt, desertion, pain, loss, death along this way. Would these things have happened if I wasn’t a writer? So much is impossible to answer. The guilt has made it difficult on the human, but the art goes on. And in the end, as the title of Lynn Crosbie’s book reminds us, “Life is about Losing Everything” anyway. Thus, to “thine own self be true.” Or else to say (exhaustingly) forgive me, forgive me, forgive me over and over again for what makes me breathe.