Charles Simic: My Weariness of Epic Proportions

My Weariness of Epic Proportions

I like it when
Achilles
Gets killed
And even his buddy Patroclus–
And that hothead Hector–
And the whole Greek and Trojan
Jeunesse doree
Is more or less
Expertly slaughtered
So there’s finally
Peace and quiet
(The gods having momentarily
Shut up)
One can hear
A bird sing
And a daughter ask her mother
Whether she can go to the well
And of course she can
By that lovely little path
That winds through
The olive orchard

–Charles Simic

A Proposal for a Better World

The world stands in need of a lot of things. I wish I could solve all of our problems, ease all of the suffering, make peace in our violent times. But, being only one man, I have to pick and choose my causes–I can’t do everything! Here’s what I’d like to do to make the world a better place:

Invent a spellchecker for those illuminated movable letter signs one sees in front of businesses and churches. Really, is there some kind of small business code book that requires the least qualified employee to be in charge of arranging the letters? Everyone has a bad spelling day every so often, but come on. I passed two signs the other day–didn’t have my camera or the time to stop anyway, but here’s what they said.
The first was an auto shop sign. WE BEAT OUR COMPEDITORS PRICES. The second, believe it or not, was on a sign for a sign company! It read, CREATE A ALL TIME SIGNATURE LOOK. I know, this is more of a grammar mistake than a spelling mistake, but the principle still applies.
Wait, someone already created a sign spellchecker?  Yes, it’s called a dictionary, kids. Many of them also include basic grammar and usage rules. Purchase one, and use it wisely. I know it’s not very high tech (what the . . . no buttons!), and you may have to learn to use the thumb tabs. Struggle on, the fate of the universe depends on you.

[Edit: I just noticed I misspelled the title of the previous post. Fixed it now. Go figure.]

Ian McEwan on Believing in Fiction

I have a couple of hours before heading back to work, so I thought I’d catch up on a little reading. Came across this article from The New Republic, wherein Ian McEwan engagingly describes his love-hate relationship with fiction.

In the past few weeks, my friend Sabio and I have discussed this very issue (here and here in the comments)–what importance can fiction have in a world of fact, the Actual? Why read a novel or poem about imagined characters and scenes, when you can read science, history, philosophy or some other supposed factual account and actually learn something true about the world? I think it’s the wrong way to look at it, since I believe fiction can work as a vehicle for truth (Sabio, maybe this is why I’m still a believer 😉 !)

A Little Pick-me-up

I feel bad I have been unable to write poetry this week–a work bubble burst over our heads and boy! did the shit ever rain down. 30 hrs. overtime. Anyway, this song makes me feel better, so I offer it instead of one of my sad poems. Some of the best pickers in all of the known universe. Mark O’Connor. Sam Bush. Mark Shatz. Tony Rice. Jerry Douglas. Bela Fleck.

Lessons Learned

Another Thursday night, and poet Victoria Slotto has us mining the depths of childhood memories to come up with a poem to share for dVerse Meeting the Bar. Join in if you can, it’s sure to be fun! (Interesting that the first memory I thought of had me perched in a tree, as in the poem Victoria shared in her article. They couldn’t keep me out of trees as a kid!)

Lessons Learned
I hauled the schoolbooks
to my study, a sturdy
sheet of plywood
wedged between welcoming
limbs of an oak.
                           Perched high
with a hundred
melodious friends,
a canteen of water and
a Case knife for whittling,
I settled in to learn my lessons.
I learned to blow
through cupped hands
and call the mourning dove.
I mocked the mocking bird;
shared a rasping laugh with Mrs. Crow—
K-haw! K-haw!
I discovered that the cardinal’s
curt tweet announced his
dazzling flash of red.
                                  Overhead
buzzards floated without flapping,
tight soundless circles notifying
of the dead nearby.
Filled with knowledge, 
I scampered
down
to answer Mom’s call to supper.

Small Talk

For Three Word Wednesday, prompt words backfire, embarrass, taste. Also submitted to dVerse OpenLinkNight.

Small Talk
The room was decked
with holiday cheer, full
of strangers sipping drinks
and tasting tiny hors d’oeuvres.
Having never learned the art
of mingling I stood in a darkened
corner, but he found
me anyway.
 “So, what’s your
career path?” He leaned
in close, talking over the
pounding backfire
of dance music.
“I’m on my way
toward death,” I said.
He backed away, embarrassed.
Or frightened. No one ever laughs
at my party jokes.