Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas

I haven't posted in a while, so I thought that I would add a poem that I started writing Friday, November 9, and finished the next day. For no fathomable reason, the general idea of the poem came to me as I was shopping at COSTCO for groceries and driving to and from there (Friday, I guess). The poem doesn't make much sense, but it is poetical so I post it. I should say that when I try to find meaning to the pieces of the poem, it not infrequently suggests things to me that I don't believe, actually. I like to consider myself a scrupulously honest person, so this rather bothered me and made me reluctant to post it. However, when the poem came to me and as I was writing it, it to an unusually large degree felt like I wasn't actually writing it, and more like I was writing down what some spiritual influence was telling me. Whether there are such spiritual things from without I don't claim to know, but it felt like there was such a thing at the time, a muse from beyond as it were, and so if you are the skeptical sort who doesn't believe in spiritual muses, instead make whatever inferences you will from the fact that it felt like something was guiding me when I was writing it (though some of the poem writing felt like me). As a general rule for myself, and as something I would suggest as a general rule for others, I take random spiritual influences quite skeptically, basically for the same reasons as I am skeptical of witchcraft and excessively polytheistic religion. However, the poem is beautiful to me, and though the spirits of the void presumably aren't equal on average to the spirits associated with actual people, it's to show a small-minded prejudiced sort of bigotry to not appreciate beauty from external spirit when such beauty is evident. Perhaps the muse knows that I am wrong about some matters, or perhaps the poem is true on levels I haven't had occasion to discover, rather like a prophecy in a Shakespeare play which gets interpreted by a fool one way but then ends up meaning something totally different. Ha, who knows, maybe some of the smoke from the forest fire then on Pilot Mountain (sacred to the Saura Indians and the beautifulest place about near Winston-Salem) had some weird spiritual influence on me notwithstanding I couldn't detect the smoke. Also, I was just beginning to have a terrible sore throat that lasted about a week, the only sickness I have had in a couple years or so; moreover, I was unusually tired from having worked a 14 hour day as an election worker on election day (Tuesday). I couldn't find a good definition for what a lens-piece is, by the way, but the phrase sounds good in the poem.

I don't remember writing a poem with dialogue in it before, which makes for punctuation difficulties. Perhaps in the future after thinking about what schemes are standard or better, I will change the punctuation, since it is rather haphazard and the one thing about the poem that I feel now I might should try to improve.
The trip to Dragon Island

''Get in, get in,
the rowboat takes off in two.

I wouldn't tarry...
If I were you.''

The oarsman removes his pocketwatch
from his breast-coat pocket.
That's right, he's wearing a breast-coat.

The second hand ticks around
as he does observe it.
He lifts his hand
And then,
He drops it.

He looks deep into the passenger's eyes,
She is his only passenger.
"We're casting off."

"It is time."

He puts the right oar in the right oarlock.
He strokes one oar two strokes around.
The boat turns.

He puts the left oar in the left oarlock.
He strokes two oar one stroke straight.
The boat is on its course.
The boat man he needs not look back
for he has been there before and remembers it well,
the girl on the cliff begging him back,
because men don't do those sort of things.
Well, he remembers where she was,
and how if he's pointed straight at her
as he is rowing away
he knows full well where he will end up.

Dragon Island.

Many a time he has
made the trip since
Always resolute,
always indifferent.

He tell the girl something.
"We are going to Dragon Island. You know?"

She responds not.
She just smiles.
How convenient, the rowman thinks,
that a girl smiling, almost laughing, at the silly looks so very similar
in every way
to a girl having so much fun.
Were it any other way,
What would her friends think?

He stops the oars and the water of the lake
drips in drops on both sides
from the blades
as they are rested above the water.
He wipes his brow with the back of his hand
very right after

He looks at her again,
"You know, it is very convenient..."

He's so knowing, she thinks.
He looks--
so deep.
What could he be thinking?

She smiles some even more.

He stares deep into her eyes.
He has something to say of great import!

"Because Dragon Island is where the magic gown be."

Slowly and leisurely he places the oar tips upon the sea,
rowing away once again,
so slowly at first,
exactly as before a minute after.

"Yeah. We are going to Dragon Island.
And we are going...unconcernedly.
Oh yeah.

He laughs, he turns his head,

She looks where he is looking,
Unicorns be frolicking on the lakeshore!
Rubbing their horns together it is a sight.
But not for him.

"Them 'corns, many a time I have a seen 'em"
he says. They are after all but the normalest thing about."
he says.
"That reminds me (slurring he does),
This trip is to dragon island.
Did you know?"
archly this time,
"that soon
We will be there?"

She smiles broadly,
"Well, I guess I kind of figured it,
because there is an island not
15 feet from the front of the boat
and you are never one to stop rowing for long."

He exclaims.
"Indeed it is really true then.
and we will be there."

He gives two strokes more.
Puts the oars up
and Holds his right hand up before her,
palm facing,
a gesture to stop.

Obviously it be of great importance
Exactly how this boat is exited
and what precisely be the demeanor of those exiting
at the time that they be a exiting.
He tries to convey this in his glance.
This is the island where there is a place
with an attic
where the magic robe is....

He wants to tell her this
but he doesn't really know how.
All he does is put his hands back on the oar,
pulling their handles up toward the back
to fold the oars in place.
He looks straight down
the small amount of sea
about his feet
He sees eternity there
and doesn't know what to do
So he just stares there
Knowing he wishes more sacred he could be.
But there is nothing else to do at this point but to look up at her
and tell her they must get out even as imperfect though he is,
because this is where the magic gown be.

"We must first survey the island",
he says,
"before setting foot."

Because of the dragons? she suggests,
somewhat expectantly.

No, he says,
as he lifts his right hand not in a stopping gesture
but as if to cut the fog in two.
"This is where the dragon lives,"
He pauses to lift his hand up and down several times as his hand gets higher and higher, then slowly drops it, then raises it up and down a smaller distance and then lets it fall.
"but it's not where the dragon is....
First we must prepare ourselves for whatever contingencies might arise.
Would you be so kind as to open the locker just behind you there on your left (it was on her right) and remove my log book.
Thank you, it's just there, yes, yes."

And so he writes,


1stday 6:36 pm 42 seconds.

Arrival at shore of Dragon Island. One passenger. Seas normal. Trip uneventful. Those who may read this know that until sunset I shall the island observe with telescope. Thereupon we shall disembark, heading to the place deemed most boring. We shall return with the magic robe. Expected length of journey: 15 minutes. When we return, having obtained robe, I will explain to passenger what we needed to do to obtain magic robe. She will explain to me all about life as I row us back.

"The theodolite lens-piece, child."

"The foot-locker...in the foot-locker."

He surveys the island, observing carefully the foliage to determine where the most boring trees are.
There, over there, he says, do you see something?
"No, " she says.
"Upon the branch of the magic boring tree.
What do you see?"
He hands the theodolite lens-piece.

"Uh, some sort of bird?"
"Exactly right, the magic bird on the magic boring tree."
"Let me see," she says,
she's strangely spellfast.
He know that look well, too,
he learns more from that than from
the fuzzy bird image.
He reads her face.
He gets out his compass
while writing some calculations in his log book.
Triangulating, he knows just where to go.
He sees something there, a tiny stump
with a rope above,
floating in the air.
"See that rope there?"
He asks.
"That's where we need to go."

The girl is transfixed.
A magic place indeed is this
Dragon Island.

He takes her by the arm as she disembarks,
his ankles wet in the water.
She scrambles right out
more spry than he, actually.

He looks at the shore philosophically,
and rubs his hair back like it's a problem,
she's running right off turning back when almost there.
He slowly plods off toward her
Thinking about his life and all that he has seen.
His distant past,
the girl on the shore,
the bird that's always somewhere else.

Upon closer inspection the cord heading up,
up to the sky,
5.6ft off stump-center be.
He finds a nearby stick.
Would you make an X there please?
She does.
He pulls the cord and the stairs come down.
They climb the stairs,
he's in an attic
and she follows right after.
He's oh-so tired now.
He sits down in a chair,
facing the stairs as she finishes ascending.
His eyes are twisting about, his tongue he stick out,
he dies
for three seconds
and then comes back,
teetering at first, but then,
there has become the magic robe in the box.
And right after,
he's back.
Back to his usual self,
just like he knew he'd be.

Here is a map I drew of the island area, fairly reflecting how I visualized it:

I know my drawing is quite bad. Handwriting is the one subject I could never get an outstanding grade at during elementary school. I am not nearly so good at art as I am at poetry. I have done better, though. Here are the three best things I've ever drawn, to demonstrate that I am (or at least have been) not totally as bad a drawer as when I drew the map.

I drew this dog with the owl not long after starting high school. I remember the dog I sketched from a photo of a dog in the World Book Encyclopedia. I don't know why the owl looks like he has a mustache.

I drew my left hand when I was a freshman at UNC, in 1984. I was simultaneously taking Art History, I think the class which grade-wise I did worst in as an undergraduate.

I drew this sketch of Joseph Conrad, apparently on August 3, 1997, when I was 31. I guess it would look okay, except carelessly I chopped off the top of his head like I was the Queen of Hearts but couldn't aim right. It was taken from this photo, which was on the cover of one his books that I had.

I have had intimations at various times that it would be very important to draw better, but it is terribly exhausting to me, I don't know why. I don't know if exhaustion is the best way of putting it, though. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that doing art feels terribly formidable or daunting. In many ways I don't actually have a good memory for faces, though I can remember the emotional impression people make in me extremely well; doubtless art would improve my ability to remember faces and their expressions, probably mainly why it would be advantageous for me to be a better artist. I think the importance of fashion is underrated as well, which may be another reason it would be well if I were better at art (but I'm not), since it is hard for me to imagine myself really appreciating fashion while not having drawing skills.