Month: Jan 2017
DEAR FRIEND: THANK YOU FOR YOUR EMAIL COMMANDING ME TO REPENT for my allegedly pornographic use of the word “cunt” in a poem on my website. Honestly, I would normally ignore such an email but I interpreted your message as a cry for help; so I hope you’ll bear with me as I respond to your words. First, let me say that I am not a pornographer but a poet. This is an important distinction in the context of this poem. It would seem that you are a fundamentalist Christian. If I may say so, it has been my experience that many who share your religious affiliation are not very well-versed in the panoply of historic literature and the arts in general and tend to have more than a streak of anti-intellectualism. This may account for your unfamiliarity with the usage of the word “cunt” in history and literature. May I suggest that you read the works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) to begin with. Chaucer is known as “the father of English literature”. He used the word “queynte” (the Old English version of “cunt”) a great deal in his “Canterbury Tales” — a classic work of English literature which appears on just about every school syllabus in the subject and has done for at least the last 70 years! I think after reading his works you will see that the single use of the good old English word, “cunt”, in my poem, is quite trivial when compared to some of Mr. Chaucer’s interesting turns of phrase!
(in which even what seems “bad” becomes good)
EVERY MORNING WHEN I AWAKEN (after feeling gratitude for a life still lived and some considerable amazement that I’m still alive!), I make this affirmation: “May I be open to *any* experience which comes my way today?” I always place the accent on the word “any”. It’s easy to be open to pleasant and familiar experiences but how open are we to unexpected ones – even what one might think to be “unpleasant experiences”. This is the space where I want to be. Every day. Even though there are some days when I say it with some trepidation and wonder if I’m going to bite off more than I can chew (though I never do)! To be continually able to regard every occurrence, no matter how seemingly “bad”, as an adventure and a boon in my life.
May I never have my knees securely underneath
the fleeting table of this passing world,
imagining that it’s the only way to be.
May I never live without a dream adventure
taking me to distant reaches way beyond
where I have ever been or ever wish to see.
May I never follow spineless grey neutrality
but always, with the utmost clarity,
may I refuse to take the level easy way;
instead to walk on stony tree-lined unworn
bridal-paths where mediocrity & all the other
dark hypocrisies could have no sway.
I’m wond-er-ing who made you feel
you have to say “I’m sorry”
almost every time you speak?
Who almost crushed you so
the sparkle from your eyes
and roseness of your cheeks
were wiped away? In other words,
who is it that decided it is better
that your personality be weak
so he could minimise your flow,
keep you in your place & thereby
curb your spirit — exercise control?
[A sample chapter from my book “Reluctant Angels”]
Homesick snores and the scent of starched, overclean sheets invaded Nathan’s senses every night. It was like a cacophony of lost little piglets restlessly seeking their mummies across the dark, so they could suckle and receive comfort in the wilderness. The dormitory was entirely dark except for a dully lit sign over a door in one corner saying “FIRE EXIT” (though the door was always locked). The bulb behind the “F” had never worked for as long as Nathan could remember; so, in fact, it said “IRE EXIT”, which he found most amusing, in view of all the combative and often bullying behaviour he witnessed every day throughout the establishment, whether from teachers, pupils or other staff — but not from the gardener, Mister Jasper, as he was called (for all non-teaching staff, like servants in colonial times, were known only by their first names, preceded by “Mister” or “Miss”. His full name, in fact, was Jasper Burrows). Nathan had a special and formative relationship with Mister Jasper [as will be revealed in greater detail in a later chapter], whom everyone thought to be “simple” but who Nathan recognised as a fountain of quiet genius. On one occasion, as his father was driving him back to the school after a weekend away, Nathan had pointed out to him Mister Jasper, who was working among the rhododendron bushes at one side of the entry drive.
“Look! There he is! That’s Mister Jasper!” said the boy excitedly.