Saturday, July 18, 2009

Air and light and time and space

I've been bellyaching about too many emails and not enough time recently.

This post by Stephen J. Schwartz at Murderati on Crunch Time reminded me agents haven't cornered the market on time problems at all.

His post opens with a poem by Charles Bukowski (and if you've not read Charles Bukowski, stop what you are doing and remedy that)




Air and light and time and space

By Charles Bukowski

“-you know, I’ve either had a family, a job, something
has always been in the
way
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
For the first time in my life I’m going to have a place and the time to
create.”

No baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
or
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
welfare,
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your
body blown
away,
you’re going to create blind
crippled
demented,
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

Baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses
for.”

6 comments:

Aimee K. Maher said...

Oh man, amazing.

Steve Stubbs said...

There was a startling new discovery in the library of Podunk Junior College recently. Nobody knows whether it is authentic or not, but the discovery appears to be a manuscript of an earlier version of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven. Poe was a little short on cash when he wrote The Raven and poured out his despair into the earlier version. Then he wadded it up and threw it in the trash. How it ever got into the library of Podunk Junior College I’ll never know. It does give you an idea of why being a starving writer in a garret is a real pisser. This is a first draft, so bear that in mind. Since Poe was a little worried at the time, you will understand why he did not call this earlier version The Raven but

The Craven
By Edgar Allen Poe
(And if he didn’t write it, then someone else did.)

Once upon an MS dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Ignoring many a quaint and curious scribbled page of vapid lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
It was a bill collector I deplore.
“When ‘re you going to pay?” he’d implore.
I responded, “Nevermore.”

Ah, distinctly I remember
He was the worst and bleakest member,
Of a collection agency I’d dismember
If I could.
I’d done it before.

But this time he was not alone,
A cop was there I thought had gone,
I thought was gone, he was not gone,
Standing at my chamber door.
“Open this door,” he’d implore.
Again said I, “Never more.”

The gentle tapping turned to rapping,
And then the rapping turned to slapping,
And finally the two were bapping,
Bapping at my chamber door.
They’d break it down, my chamber door,
I bade them go, Forever more.

“You owe us a pile of money.”
I said, “Knaves, you’re really funny”
“You really think I’d pay you, honey?”
“Ha, ha, ha, you I deplore.”
“I will pay you Nevermore.”

I made a mad dash for the window,
It would not open, my wretched window,
I looked at it, I saw the reason,
I nailed it shut the night before.
To keep the bill collectors out
I nailed it shut the night before.
I started sweating from every pore.

The rapping grew louder, louder at my chamber door.
“Open up, you scoundrel,” the rappers did implore.
“I’m just a writer. My books have tanked.
I have no cash like I did before.”

Finally their angry rapping,
Finally their insistent slapping,
Not much more a gentle rapping
Forced open my wretched door.

You rat! You’ll pay! I heard them say.
I see your wallet through the door.
There’s nothing in it, I implored.
They raised my wallet from the floor,
Chewing gum, and nothing more

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
I grabbed my marijuana bonger and made my mad dash through the door.
I left them both running through the door,
I’d see those two fiends Never More.

Rushing wildly down the hall
I heard a sound that me appalled
My persecutors were on the ball,
On the ball they rushed through the door.
With my credit cards galore.

I worked hard on a query letter,
The last one’s bad, but this one’s better
I folded up the better letter
And shoved it in the proper door.

Janet Reid will solve my problem,
Solve my problem, she did before.
Or was that Kristin?
Was it Rhonda, Barb or Listin?
I felt at once my memory slippin’,
Slippin’ like it did before.

I may write – nevermore.

Heather Wardell said...

That's a great poem. I found this one by Bukowski at contrariwise.org (a neat site that shows off literary tattoos, of all things) and I love it too.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

- Bluebird by Charles Bukowski

It's the "you want to blow my book sales in Europe?" part that really gets me.

Jaye Wells said...

Wow, this is weird. I just stumbled on Bukowski's "Bluebird" this morning for the first time through one of those labyrinthian internet voyages. I then spent two hours reading everything I could find by him. And now this.

"Baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses
for.”

Pow! Right to the heart. Thanks for sharing this.

Ulysses said...

Yes. Exactly.

A friend of mine tells me he'd like to write a book someday, but he hasn't found the time.

Like time is something you find.

Time is like closet space. It doesn't matter how much you have of either, it'll fill up. The time you need is there, you're just using it for something else, something you think is more important.

And that's fine, but don't make it sound like you're busier than I am, like I have more time than you do. I've just got twenty-four hours in my day. I've got to fit kids and wife and job and property maintenance and everything else in there too, just like you.

I don't find time. I make it.

I make time the same way I make closet space: push some things into a smaller place, get rid of stuff I don't need.

And I don't make excuses.

Mira said...

These are all great. Air and light and time and space. Poetry about writing - who knew?

I already complimented Steve, but I want to say I really like the bluebird poem. That spoke to something inside me.