Posted in creativity, poetry, writing

When Words Fail

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WHEN WORDS FAIL

They are slippery, evasive, coy,
dangling on our tongues,
sometimes, yes, at the tip,
and sometimes on an edge,
not big enough to bite,
or near enough to taste,
resting on molars, or canines,
before vanishing
and reappearing in a flicker,
chuckling.

Once in a while, they are gremlins,
gumming up the works,
wreaking havoc.

But it always seems the ones we deeply crave,
those that will plait our thoughts
into a seamless chain,
dodge into remote, cranial crevices
when we call them.

And then it takes four or five or six words
to say, all too poorly, what one would have said—
the one which won’t be found in a thesaurus
because even its synonyms have hidden in solidarity.

Those are the words that keep us
imagining they’ve been sucked
from their shallow holes
into some bottomless eddy.

Those are the words that really bedevil.

Until, by some miracle—
spring, mostly,
their noses reemerge,
unguarded, quivering, curious,
and ready to multiply….

©2017 All Rights Reserved

Posted in fiction, Flash Fiction, food, human nature, language, writing

Pudding

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Once upon a time, there was Comfort, and there was Safety, and each was known for its own special meaning. Because the two got along so well, they developed a relationship of mutual respect and autonomy. Comfort could live without Safety, and Safety could live without Comfort; but as they discovered they were often better together, enhancing each other’s unique qualities, they preferred not to be apart.

All was well in their relationship for a while, until a strange thing began to happen: people started to mistake one for the other—saying, I want comfort, when, in fact, what they really meant was, I want safety, and vice versa. At first, Comfort and Safety were amused by the confusion. However, as it increased, they found themselves squabbling over which of them was needed for this or that purpose, with one saying, You go, and the other saying, No, you. The result was that either both of them would show up, or neither would, leaving people so confounded and frustrated, that there was no recourse but to heap enormous bags of connotation on them in an attempt to clarify their uses. This left the two stricken and pained, and so weighted down that they suffered severe identity crises, and, eventually, could not function at all.

Naturally, their relationship soured.

Comfort, who had never had a secure sense of self-esteem to begin with, due to being overshadowed by safety’s stalwart nature and moral certainty, wanted to seek Therapy.

But Safety scoffed at the idea, claiming Therapy’s definite article was misused and over-prescribed, making it a cliché.

If Comfort had been of a different ilk, it would have pointed out the rich irony of Safety’s comment, considering that both of them had been described as illusions. But, since arguing was antithetical to Comfort’s nature, it said nothing. And, ignoring a string of modifiers that were now dangling from one of its overstuffed bags, it slunk away, and plunged into a vat of warm chocolate pudding to console itself.

Meanwhile, Safety was not about to sit and wait for Comfort’s return. Who did Comfort think it was anyway, ditching Safety for speaking the truth? The nerve! Safety was so miffed, that it hoisted itself, and its baggage, up, and stalked off, determined to find and court Happiness.

But, as Happiness, in a fit of paranoia, had taken a nose dive into the chocolate pudding with Comfort, it was a pursuit that proved utterly futile.

©2018 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in books, creativity, fiction, music, Shadows and Ghosts, writing

An Imperfect Stitch

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There is an error in Shadows and Ghosts.

During occasional battles with an ongoing obsession over symmetry and accuracy, I’ve considered correcting it…but only momentarily.

~~~

In 1975, Leon Redbone released his album, On the Track, which contains a rendition Of “Ain’t Misbehavin” (lyrics by Andy Razaf and music by Thomas “Fats” Waller and Harry Brooks).

Redbone’s interpretation is slightly off-kilter: the intonation struggles in places, and there are extra beats sprinkled throughout. But I love it. Its off-balance rhythmic irregularities, the nasal grit in Redbone’s voice, the imperfect instrumental tones and pitches feel fresh and authentic.  They transform a great song into a greater one.

~~~

My mother was a perfectionist. Today we would likely say her attention to detail was compulsive. But that compulsiveness got her far, made her successful at everything she did. Although I’ve spent most of life as an unapologetic underachiever, I have no doubt that some of her “perfectionism” rubbed off on me. You can’t spend hours practicing scales and arpeggios, isolated musical passages over and over without being at least a little compulsive. It’s the only way to train the brain, develop fine motor skills, make the muscles remember.

But it’s not always enough.

Along with compulsive tendencies, creation demands an oblique and often fractured perspective, a willingness to look at subject matter, construction, sideways and through a prism.

~~~

When I think of the thousands of books I’ve read, pieces of music I’ve played, I realize most of them contained errors and/or irregularities, some degree of strangeness in small or large ways that established the works as fresh and unique, that transformed and elevated them.

So I keep my error in place, because in important ways, it acts as a type of cipher.  And to reinforce its importance, I put a prism in plain view.

©2018 All Rights Reserved