When I was 16, I started working out at the YMCA. I used the treadmill and I went on a routine through almost every muscle group in the body. After a year, I had lost 10 pounds to become a svelte 175 lbs. (it wasn’t a goal of mine, I actually wanted to bulk up a little and gain weight) but I was about three times as strong as when I’d started. I didn’t look much stronger, but I could feel it. I surprised the heck out of myself when I did 2 pull-ups on a whim at age 17. I had never been able to do a pull-up with my 6’4″ frame weighing me down before.

That was a long time ago. Now at the age of 30, my joints are feeling more achy, and they’re wanting to pop all the time. My muscles feel sore sometimes for no reason at all. I admit I haven’t been exercising, but it’s difficult to get excited about starting when you wake up feeling tired in the morning. So what does this have to do with writing?

Well, maybe nothing of course. This is a journal after all. However, as I mentioned in this same journal, I feel the need to write. Like anything else, if you don’t exercise and use your abilities at whatever level they exist at, they may start to decline. I don’t want to get rusty at writing any more than I already have, so here I am, jazzercising on WordPress.

I’m going to try to do physical exercise again, though. Surely I shouldn’t feel so old and tired at the age of 30. I’m not even halfway done with my life. If I keep going this way, how will I feel when I’m 40 or 50? No, I dread to think. I must exercise between here and there. I can’t reverse the aging process, but I could darn well enjoy it and slow it down a little.

the morning stretch

a cascade of pops goes down my back,
left, right,
like a waterfall of little rocks easing the ache.
then the elbows, sometimes the shoulders,
joining in with the percussion section
the knees, of course,
loud and sharp to make themselves heard above the din
the muscles stretch taut like a violin
good-natured complaints like an old joke among friends.
Then, always to my surprise,
the sternum lets its own quiet note go
and I feel I have somehow been violated
that some places should never pop.
Sighing, I flex my toes with a chorus of cracks
and force myself to sit up.


Catch the Wind

I think we may be living in the best time period for the overwhelming availability of music. The internet, of course, has the largest role in this, but even if it didn’t exist portable hard drives and ever-expanding flash memory capacity would have gotten us there. I’m grateful to be living in this time for that reason. Imagine living in the middle ages and trying to track down a minstrel across half of Europe to hear a song again!

I have many passions in music (a stranger one recently for me is electronica in various forms), one that stands out is my love of psychedelic/acid rock. It covers a wide range and goes outside of its own genre because everyone was experimenting back then. For instance, Donovan Leitch’s “Catch the Wind” is decidedly more folk in sound (I also love folk music, both classical and modern), but it’s a great song if you haven’t heard it.

To really dig into psychedelic rock sound, though, you need to feel the pulse of a rock organ, overdrive your guitar just a little, pluck the sitar, tap that tambourine and dance to the flute. If you’re interested in tasting a sampling of this, I have some recommendations for you to look up: “Green Tambourine” by The Lemon Pipers is pretty well known, “Pictures of Matchstick Men” by The Status Quo is less known but fun, you may have occasionally heard “Incense and Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock on the radio once in a blue moon, “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane is a classic, “Season of the Witch” by Donovan Leitch is a good one (I love a lot of Donovan’s works). If that sampling doesn’t interest you then, well, I tried at least.

Lyrical music is at its best when the words stand as a poem on their own. I’m not going to tell you all of these fit the bill, but there is an undeniable connection between poetry and music. Poems have a music of their own, pulsing with rhythms that can be analyzed using scansion. I don’t always want to analyze though; sometimes I just feel that rhythm wash over me like music and let it carry me off on the tide for a moment.

music man, laughing man, play me a tune
we’ll howl in the night by the light of the Moon
hurdy man, gurdy man, give me a song
sing it before the notes have all gone

black woman, magic woman, play your guitar
carry your strings inside of my car
wild woman, witch woman, by flute or string,
inspire me while you have time left to sing

music man, laughing man, play me a tune
as much as you can; you’ll have to leave soon
hurdy man, gurdy man, give me a song
your age on this world will not be long

black woman, magic woman, play your guitar
you pass in the night like the brightest of stars
wild woman, gypsy woman, sing with me, dance,
your world wasn’t mine, I was given no chance.

an uninspired moment

The thing college English professors will always tell you is that to get better at writing, you must write. Constantly. The past couple of days have been great because I felt the Muse burning inside me. I felt the words coming to me. Right this minute though, I’d rather be playing Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition or watching a movie or playing Magic: the Gathering. I don’t feel like I have anything to say just now, and it would be so much easier to wait until I did.

This moment, then, I am forcing myself to write. Write about what? About not wanting to write, or at least not feeling inspired to write! It feels like I’m rambling, that I’m trying to get blood from a stone, and that I’m not really communicating anything at all. I want to be good at writing though, and I don’t want to lapse for weeks at a time as I wait for the Muse’s return. The last time I did that, I waited for years.

I don’t know why it feels easy to write sometimes and other times it feels burdensome. Perhaps the Muse will come back this very evening, and I’ll have loads to say, both on this blog and on my more polished, tongue-in-cheek blog http://lordrumfish.wordpress.com/. Now that I’m writing again I can’t let it go without a fight. Part of the very fiber of my being is the need to create, whether that’s creating a game, a written work, a song, or even some fabricated object. I will write; I must write.

The hardest thing by far is writing a poem when you don’t feel inspired. If you’ve ever taken a poetry class or just had an English assignment you have probably felt this pressure. Writing a poem when I feel uninspired gives me a dirty, forced feeling, like I’m turning a urinal upside-down and calling it art (all in jest, Andy Warhol). Despite this, I will try to write something today. As an added challenge (might as well), I’m going to write a Spenserian sonnet.

When in Night’s dark embrace I am alone,
and hopeless love in vain I quest to seek,
each sighing of the wind becomes a moan,
and heartache robs my strength and leaves me meek.
Oh, can I wait for hope even a week?
An OkCupid match to find in time,
or is my prospect yet to follow bleak,
and none shall come to couple with my rhyme?
For my love ‘s no thing of beauty, but sublime
a tempest tossing kisses in a storm;
despite this, all I truly wish to find
are eyes of kindness and a heart that’s warm.
For though despair may rend and humor mocks,
hope springs eternal from Pandora’s box.

I Bless The Rains

Do you ever feel that thunderstorms were made a part of the universe just so it would be more spectacular?

It’s storming here, and there is some powerful thunder shaking my walls. Honestly the computer shouldn’t be on, but I’m a ninny so here I am. I had a moment while sitting here where I thought to myself, “Does thunder sound the way it does due to natural law, or were natural laws written such that thunder sounds sublime?” I have all kinds of weird little thoughts like that, all the time.

Since I mention the word sublime, let’s talk about the Beautiful and the Sublime for a moment. Dictionary.com uses this definition for sublime:

2. impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc.

A hundred or two years ago, there was a sharp demarcation between the Beautiful and the Sublime. Sublime things were not considered “beautiful,” they were in their own category. Lonesome craggy cliffs, windswept views from mountain peaks, thunderstorms, such things were considered sublime. The context has been lost; I myself can hardly call up such an image in my mind without calling it “beautiful” now. I guess the point is, sublime things sometimes give me faith in some form of higher power existing.

You may note that sublime things are sometimes dangerous; I think this adds to the sense of awe and power, and makes one just a little bit less likely to call it “beautiful” because they are afraid of it. One of my weird specific examples is Saturn, the planet. At a distance as a small image, it’s kinda neat and funky-looking. If you’ve ever seen a very large image of Saturn though, something about the rings begins to scare me just a little, like I’m getting too close to it. I had such an encounter when I played the video game Freelancer and flew pretty close to a planet with rings. At a distance it was neat, but as I got closer I felt an ominous dread start to creep over me. I have no idea why; I think this is one of my brushes with the sublime. Large images of Saturn still do this to me.

I’m not scared of thunderstorms, but I do find them breathtaking, awe-inspiring… one might say sublime. I can’t say for sure that they were placed here for our benefit, but a part of me likes to believe that yes, it is even so.

booming loud, the thunder quakes
as all about the bedroom shakes
no spring drizzle on window pane:
our thunderstorm, our summer rain

the winds are howling ’round the eaves
your hair is damp and clogged with leaves
we both consent to wonder, pain:
our thunderstorm, our summer rain

against the wind and fury ‘n mud
we both collapse when comes the flood
to wash us clean for autumn’s mane:
our thunderstorm, our summer rain

A moment of prose

It would appear poetry isn’t dead after all.

Those of you who are poets probably already know what I mean by this. It might be worse in Kentucky than other parts of the United States, and I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but I feel like I’m surrounded by a press of people who either don’t understand poetry, hate poetry, or simply don’t want to understand it. Is it as simple as changing cultural tastes? Will poetry swing back into favor again? Or is the flaw more glaring, starting from someplace like our public education system? I really don’t know, but I feel it is somehow connected to the breakdown of people’s ability to possess analytical thought.

At first blush, logic and analysis seem like odd bedfellows for poetry, but to appreciate the deeper meaning of a poem, to understand scansion and allusion and formalist imagery, a problem-solving mind can apply itself to a work. Many people would consider poetry to be so ethereal and high brow (they might not use those words though) that it is simply unapproachable. Really, the tools I was handed in my three entry-level college English classes gave me the means to see deeper into a text, they have just been improving from there. I wish I could say high school had done more of this, but it only brushed the surface faintly, and I took advanced English classes in high school.

Any work of fiction generally has a deeper level you can read it on; perhaps people find poetry intimidating because 1.) poetry always has this quality, and 2.) it does not have as much “surface” quality. A 9 year old kid can potentially enjoy reading “The Raven” because it tells a story at the basic narrative level, but if you hand that same kid a work by e.e. cummings they will be boggled. Now, take out the words “9 year old kid” and replace it with “average person.” No, I’m not saying our nation’s intellect is that low, I’m saying that when it comes to poetry specifically they seem to react that way, like a deer in the headlights.

I don’t know how to turn this around, how to get people to understand the deeper levels of imagery within words, how to get them to care. I’d like to say to anyone reading this, though, that I appreciate finding other people on this blog that enjoy poetry, whether reading it or writing it. So many people in my everyday life, even well-read and educated people, seem to hold poetry at arm’s length if not further.

And now, just so I don’t disappoint the folks who search by keyword (no, I’ll still disappoint them ^_~), a poem:

There once was a man from Kentucky,
who wasn’t incredibly lucky
he wrote lots of poems
but no one would know ’em
which is more than a little bit sucky.

Molten Man

to be a man is to be made fire:
smoldering passion, burning desire
boiling fury when too provoked,
and when suppressed a wisp of smoke
his eyes are embers, burning deep
sharp slag makes his impurities
yet when he is calm and the feeling passed
he smooths into volcanic glass