August 8, 2016
I stuck a three-fold brochure entitled “What is Vedanta?” inside my book on writing. It’s a book mark but also a reminder. The pairing is everything.
The Vedanta is a philosophy based on the oldest scriptures of India, the Vedas. The basic premise teaches the divine in all of us, and the pursuit of the divine is all there is. Writing needs no definition. Most everyone writes.
But writing for some is more than communication, practical missives that need delivery to complete some operation, some function of human existence. Some of us write because it’s what we do to reach the divine in us. I’m not sure I’m including myself in that “us,” but I’d like to consider that conviction more.
More than God and the divine, the Vedanta embraces all other belief systems whose end goal is reaching the divine. In other words, it makes no difference the words or way, it’s making the journey that matters. And that’s sort of my approach to writing. I write. Every day. Some of it’s good, some not. No matter, it’s the doing that counts.
Some days writing is therapy. Some days it’s meditation. Others it’s creation, while still others–struggle. Writing is life. It’s all we do. Some of us.
The finest and lowest moments connect to writing: that painful process of birthing a poem, a story, an article, a listicle, even, like molding bramble, hay and rocks together to make a statue of the Mona Lisa. And then the miracle of finishing with something approximating Da Vinci’s girl, or even pretty damned close–well, that’s heavenly.
The struggle to achieve, find, see and discover the divine of us in, by, through and despite the Vedanta continues moment by moment. It is the ever-present, ever-elusive (seemingly) goal. Writing is the mock up.
A moniker for good living,
this fear of discomfort,
ever drifting toward ever-comfort,
Just give me this or that–
this amount of money,
and everything will sail,
Cadillac shocks across
the fresh asphalt forest floor.
If I can be comfortable,
just end this struggle,
this pain and anguish,
this ambitious striving,
I will be content.
I once knew this
“Contentment is death,”
I said at solitary 14.
The day I am content,
all juices have dried.
The day I surrender,
turn from struggle,
un-face the tick of the clock,
is the time to lay down,
take peace to a deep hole,
dug in my own backyard,
or in an abandoned dirt lot.
I am neither hero nor warrior.
a third rate ecstasy vampire,
seeking small electric bites,
a taste of the powerful,
and the sublime.
To touch the electrified wire
to tolerate the charge,
where it sparks,
risking pain and death,
beats the static hum
sounding the heated surge,
only the pulsing effects,
not the beat itself.
I remember reading the poet:
“I want to write what marks me,
gets me killed.”
I wondered if I did too:
stop fearing, I thought,
stop warning safety,
stop honoring caution
and forego the refrain,
letting shit fly and scatter,
roam and bust,
fling and crust
and curdle like dying,
like spoiled cream,
like decay and wither,
the words, let them
paralyze, plunder and poison,
let them arrest a heart,
gore truth from a bloody lung,
a festering bullet hole to the brain,
let them burn
let them disrupt dreams
and torture sleep.
Let them brand flesh,
singe hair and spew bile.
Let them upturn content-
meant to pacify and please.
Let them fist screams
and tear at vacant stares.
Let them drown dun breasts
and poetic gentility.
Let them beat the fuck out of you
–and me too.
Delaying the inevitable chore,
distasteful, disagreeably utile,
cracking open a creative divide,
writing mercenary words to eat.
Powerful procrastination widens
my eyes smoldering laser-see
the clouds churning charged,
ready to release and pour rain.
The storyline unfolds just then:
He had a girlfriend at the time.
Saigon had fallen two years prior.
So, his coming trailed calamity.
She walked the color of caress,
peaked fem-enigmatic effusion,
lithe boned and delicate fleshly.
Her name, a chilly winter song,
juxtaposing a bronzed-fire will,
she led him to the sun wingless.
And I watched behind a column
I constructed far too narrowly
to hide the heavy haunting me,
the girth of stony mind sleights.
I, velveted brown-eyed insecure,
peered around an Ionic pillar thin,
to gaze on a gazer, distant-drawn
drinking her gauzy gray-blue sea.
His eyes pierced her silken skin
hollowed her safe harbor’s vapor.
And there he knelt, nose in the air
sensing the suck of the sea’s loss
ebbing tides of futile passage…
and so it begins, drops descending,
disrupting imagery as I trace them,
all ten of them mustered in distress
great blustery burst of all but naught.
Like sitting by the window waiting
for inspiration and steely wit to spin
commercial cogs of nil to the world.