Got a new dog, Mia. Named after Mia Farrow. I would include her complete picture but my father says if you take a photo of a dog, it will die. This is a hard fact to prove/disprove or otherwise. I spent years asking people I met at hardwood floor/bookshelves made of 2X4/sweating PBR in giant metal bins/this poet I know makes excellent pizza/house-with-a-cat parties if they owned a dog. If they said yes I followed with, “Have you ever taken a photo of it?” Every single person had. I am still looking for a dog that has never been photographed. A Martian dog maybe. Once that happens, I will monitor the dog for my remaining life, and then pass the project on to my son. Like a Buddhist trying to move a mountain. And so on.
I don’t want my dog to live forever because that would be horrible. So above is a picture of 1/3 of my new dog. This should lead to an annoyingly long life, but not eternal.
I just read a person say that most of Don DeLillo’s novels are about men alone in a room. I am now grinding my spleen into my left foot. As the cool kids mumble, whatever.
In other news:
Whenever want-to-be-writer folks sashay into my office and ask the good ol’ “How do I become a writer?” query, I always answer with, “Why in Lohan’s name are you asking me?” Followed by, “Get a job.”
Here’s one reason:
Matt Bell won the 2008 Million Writer’s Award. No surprise in my country. I read, re-read and passed to others Matt’s chicken-religion-eyeglasses-grief support-touch of Camus story. It’s also a good text for the classroom (at least mine), as it displays one of my “Lovelace Rules” (important rules these–right up there with slime mold) of creative writing. As I blah and re-blah and blah once again to my Intro CW students: write about work. But no. They often want to write diluted versions of the movie they saw that Thursday evening. This can be OK, but I would rather they wrote about the day they felt that throat-heat of arriving at a job, of screwing up the task at hand, of learning the back-side, the Sara, the how-sausages-are-made reality of a job, the crookedness and bolt throwing and making out in the trash compacter of a j j j job. Carl Sandburg to Jim Harrison to Barbara Ehrenreich, etc. To my great fortune, I stumbled through many jobs (poodle groomer to lifeguard to landscaper to Pizza Hut driver to shipping and delivery at an incredibly toxic chemical company owned by Quaker Oats to Mercedes plant robot scrubber to RN to on and on…) and they all taught me: humans, all humans, are weird. (Robots are weird, too.) And mean. And nice. And layered like certain tall people, or rocks, or finger sandwiches. I think this knowledge is critical to writing. Matt Bell’s characters are odd, in a night-swim honesty way readers recognize and then say, “Thank gods. It’s not only me sleeping with a Christian heavy metal band singer.”
THE LOUDEST SOUND I HEARD TODAY: 30,000 cubic meters of water caterwomping out a spillway below Kentucky Dam. Sounded like infatuation on Dexedrine, screaming.
Saw a mink scurry by my feet. I didn’t realize mink ever acclimated to humans. But they do. And this woman in really tight jeans yelled out, “Don’t you touch it! It’ll bite your ass!”
I did not touch the mink.
Saw an incredibly bell-thomp fisherman get his john-boat too near to the intake of the dam, thus pinning himself to the hulking scary rusting intake grate. Suction, you know, sucks. Very dramatic action for those of us on the bouldered shore. Some cheering for him to live, others jeering for him to die. Angler guy finally revved his motor in reverse and throttled up max, with a rooster-tail of exhaust and spray. Sounded like a chainsaw hung up on a cow. Hung, hung, treading water and froth and howl; then popped free from the grate and eddy-spun out of there. He most likely won’t visit that fishing spot again.
I also saw a fisherman GIVE UP while at the spillway. He hooked a whale/NSA submarine/bloated backup singer/minor god (???) and the fish won the battle, clearly, for about half an hour. My uncle James and I settled in to watch the battle. This fisher-guy had braided line and it wasn’t going to snap, no matter how his rod looked like this: C. The line did sing with vibration, a strum, a sweet sound that had my blood coursing. But that fish had him soul deep. Memphis blues deep. At one point, he actually placed the rod over his shoulder in a kind of Iwo Jima holding-a-flag pose, turned his back to the fish, and trudged up the hillside trying to physically tug the fish in. After this, and other attempts, he purposely wedged his gaff into the line, spun and twisted, and snapped the line. Huh? First time I’ve seen a fisherman surrender. The crowded bank of fisher-folk seemed displeased. Grumbles and head shakes. I handed out copies of Moby Dick.
Who writes better about death, Blake Butler or Philip Larkin? This (scroll down) by Butler or that by Larkin? I’ll answer the question later in this blog. Why do I keep writing about death today? Maybe it’s because I am going to die. Relax, relax, we all are…it’s as inevitable as Joyce Carol Oates.
MY BROTHER HAS A NEW CD OUT!! I have many interests, a smidgen of knowledge base, but am lowly deficient in music, so will hardly review here. But I will tell you SIX FACTS ABOUT MY BROTHER’S ALBUM.
1.) Adderall is an orange pill.
2.) There’s either a sitar or a tapir on track 3.
3.) You can write to it. Though I prefer to write to the type of music played in Mexican restaurants in Alabama. I dare you to find a southern town that does not have three Mexican restaurants, one good, one Cracker Barrel bad, one in some woman’s living room.
4.) Does my brother know the band rips off a book By Mark Vonnegut, the mentally ill physician, and son of the author-you-should-read-while-between-ages 17 to 24? If my brother does know, kick ass! If not, still kick ass!
5.) There is no number 5.
6.) To me, the music on this album sounds like going back and forth, back and forth, with your friendly guide, Roop Verma, over thread count while bartering for a rug in India while at the same time thinking, “Shelia pushed past Dalton and hurried out the door.” I liked the feeling.
In other news, the pirates of the world are in deep trouble:
Maurice Manning said to me, “Sean, Kentucky is very sweet in the spring.” This was a few months ago in a library. He is an Alabama MFA grad, like me, and I put my shoulder to the wheel for all Alabama MFA folks, except for the very few I can not tolerate.
Also, Manning writes better poetry than we do.
A Psalm To Bring Remembrance
I had a friend when I was little;
he went to a different school because
he was a little slow. He lived
with a giant man and woman who weren’t
his parents, and six or seven more
he called his sisters and brothers. He had
a dog named Sister. We played in the woods
and tinkered on our bicycles.
One day, an older girl took off
her shirt and told us we could touch.
He did. He waved his hands around
as if he were trying to catch a bird.
The older girl was a Catholic,
I believe; her name was Mary; I
was a Presbyterian, and he
was nothing. Another day, we broke
a woman’s window with a rock.
He got the tar whipped out of him.
I mowed the banjo player’s yard
all summer to pay my share. You God
up there who saw it all, I hope
his life got better, but I doubt
it did. If he is dead by now,
I hope he’s resting in your bosom.
Do not be slow. Remember he
was poor and needy, more than me.