In one room a radio
moan of clarinet
wail of saxophone
bumpa bumpa bumpa
like the heartbeat
like blood flailing at the temples
like giant steps in baby shoes
like a blind bird flying
let me scream
let me out
let me call the name of something that has not been named
and feel the dream of a starless night
when no one
feeling anything more than
the bumpa th bumpa th bumpa
and you holding onto
the tempo of a bass fiddle
groaning against the hurt
crying out with the carvings of pain
the agony of again and again
like a shower spitting its water
across the inside and edges of your misery
please again please
bumpa ba bumpp ba ba
In the other room a tv
the tedious whine of a woman
the whimper of a rogue
and the sensuous
thrum of a certain song
to the words and sounds
there are pictures, mind drawn
in this room a skillet
sausage sizzles in a skillet
sauce bubbles in a pot
and the comfortable
microwaving of a potato
adding to the entire flavor
of a lazy Sunday afternoon
“Got my glasses fixed yesterday. I’m really pleased cuz they were cleaned, too. Now I’m not guessing as much when I drive.” ~ Caledon
This is an exercise where I take the first line or two of a book and start writing. The goal is to write a complete story or scene. Another rule is that I haven’t read the book, so I have no idea where the beginning of the book is going. Additionally, I try to limit the story to 1,000 words.
The witch had a cat and a hat that was black, and long ginger hair in a braid down her back.**
Everything about her said, ‘Witch,” except for the three kids tagging along behind her. I knew one of them. He was Jacob, a kid in my class.
“Hey, Jacob!” I shouted as they walked by.
He looked at me, but didn’t say anything, didn’t even act like he knew who I was. That made me wonder if maybe she was a witch and she did something to them and she was taking them home to cook them. That’s what witches do to kids you know. If the kid’s lucky, the witch will make them a slave and make them wash dirty witch stuff. Usually, the kid isn’t lucky and gets stuffed in a big oven, the size of a pizza oven, only the witch isn’t making pizza.
I thought maybe I should follow them. After all, if she was going to eat them, she had to have a house someplace. Maybe I could follow and see where she went. Then I could call the police. I didn’t want to follow too close, though. Last thing I wanted was to be part of a witch sandwich.
They went down a block and turned the corner. By the time I got there, they were gone.
She must have seen me following and made them disappear, I thought. I hurried down the street thinking maybe there was an alley, but as I was passing an ice-cream shop, I saw them all inside. She was handing each of them an ice-cream cone. Oh no, just like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, she was fattening them up. When they came out of the store, I said, “Hi Jacob.”
He mumbled, “Hi.” as he licked his ice-cream.
“Are you one of Jacob’s friends?” the witch asked. I couldn’t tell if she sounded like a witch, but I think she did.
I nodded, yes.
‘Would you like some ice-cream, too?” she said, and I think she cackled.
“No, thank you very much,” I said as I turned and ran. Maybe Jacob was going to stand there and let an old witch fatten him up, but I wasn’t. I didn’t stop until I was in my yard in front of my house.
** From the first line of “Room on the Broom” by Julia Donaldson
When I was in 7th grade I won (it wasn’t exactly a victory) the award for worst handwriting. My teacher predicted I would be a doctor. At the time, that seemed like as good an idea as any. Although I also wanted to be a dancer, lawyer, baseball player, and writer.Writing is difficult. Writing is hard. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing. I know I have to do it.
Life took me in a variety of directions. I was mostly a radio announcer, but I was also a teacher, a sportswriter, an insurance underwriter, a carpet salesman, a car salesman, a factory worker, a stock boy, and now I’m retired so I’m trying to do something I’ve always wanted to do: write (as in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry).
Writing is difficult. Writing is hard. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing. I know I have to do it. It needs to be done in the same sense that dishes need washing, housework needs working, the dog needs to be fed, walked, etc (there is an awful lot to that etc.), a letter (email) has to be read, a letter (email) has to be written, a bill needs to be paid, etc., etc., and etc. So, I have plenty of excuses to feed my writer’s block.
This is one of those days. In fact, every day is one of those days. It’s never easy dragging my heart and soul out and showing them to the world. I know there’s a good chance when I’m finished I will be thinking, that was stupid, or they’re not going to like that, or I’m sure that’s the last thing of mine they’re over going to read, or etc., etc., and etc.
Still, I know if I don’t do it, I might never do it. Those bills can wait, the dog can wait, the housework isn’t going anywhere; but the words I am going to put on paper, the ideas I am going to dredge up out of my heart and soul might never be there again if I don’t sit down and force myself to uncover them.
I thought if I made a schedule that would make it easier. In a sense it does. I have a direction of sorts when I start. I know that after I finish this blog post I will be rolling, I will be in the mood and it will be easier to work on one of the many, many stories waiting to be finished. This blog starts my day, but even with a schedule there is still the pain, agony, and potential for heartbreak that faces me every time I say, ‘Time to write something.’
The thing is I rarely feel inspired when it’s time to start. While inspiration often hits me at unusual moments: when I’m making a left turn, when I’m trying to decide which yogurt flavor to buy, when I’m sitting in the doctor’s office, when I’m eating dinner, and so on – real inspiration occurs when I’m writing. That little boy I’ve got rolling down a hill after Jill threw a bucket of water at him, what if he rolls into a hole and disappears, what if he keeps rolling and rolling and rolling up and over another hill, what if it’s winter and that water freezes solid, what if… what if… and how about that? That’s crazy, that might just work, that is a great idea. I’m glad I thought of it.
None of that will happen if I don’t ignore the feeling that I’m not inspired, that I have nothing worth writing about, that I’m wasting my time and get started. It’s always the first word that’s the hardest, but once that’s done it’s sometimes amazing how many line up and follow it. That’s when writing becomes fun, after that first word. So, that’s what I did today. I started with that one word: Writing…