on the cataract eyes of an old man,
in the crashing silence when the crowd has gone,
and on a blank white page of erasable bond"--
Opal Jane O'Neal, from "Some Places where Poems Are"
When I was in college, before word processers really existed, I loved to buy erasable bond. I loved the idea that print could be eradicated with a simple pencil eraser. In those days I wrote in pencil. To this day, I do not understand those who fill out crossword puzzles in ink.
I had a friend in college who wrote a play that got produced. Amused by this idea, I wrote a parody of a play, in seven acts. One act was staged with two folks in trashcans, rather like in Endgame. I had not read Endgame. I had only read Waiting for Godot. I conceitedly thought my conceit delightful.
It was a classic "My Sweet Lord/He's So Fine" situation.
My play was called "Life's Grimace". It featured a lot of wordplay. I have it still, I believe, in a thesis binder somewhere. It made me laugh, and I suppose that's good, because I was its principal audience.
I wish I could find my scrapbook of my London Summer. The affectations I acquired there caused me to write more than anything prior to this weblog. I still have a crush on the way that the girl who wrote me the note about Kinks tickets made the circles in her vowels. I could get infatuated with the littlest things about people in those days. Of course, getting infatuated with a curlicue allows one to overlook that one has no chance whatsoever with a girl. After all, the Word may become flesh, but the Word alone sometimes suffices.
I always notice when people write more about defining something than just writing something, and letting it just happen and be. In the defining, something important happens. I cannot tell a story, really, but I can tell a story about a story.
But all the defining does a lot of good, and yet does no good. It's an interior experience, not easily placed into words. Have you ever noticed how many beautiful, passionate things don't easily fit into words? A kiss? A caress? The way that one feels at eight in the morning when the sun comes through a window?
Ephemera. Poems. They're synonyms. They're things everyone writes every day.
They're things you can't put your fingers upon. John R. Reed said, in "A Poem for the Last Day":
"Here's how I think
All or nothing. Here today
And gone forever.
Yet are, by this
I write my life on cheap erasable bond. If anything in it is eternal, it's not made of marble. It's here today, and gone forever. I tend to believe that death is not the end, but I never worry much if death is the end. Each moment is the end, each moment the beginning. Each moment is the hereafter, and the birth and the promise.
Did you see the Hubble telescope photos? So vast--so distant. Whirling galaxies, entropic departures, a finite but unimaginable expansion and void.
I exhale, a moment has gone. I inhale, another moment gone. It's all strange, everlasting, hope. But all cheap, erasable bond.