Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sleepless Night - A Magpie Tale

The Mill - 1964, Andrew Wyeth
provided as a prompt by Tess for this week's Mag 204

Often Wyeth does this to me. He opens me to the darker places that are available in my heart. In this painting I notice that the window glass can be the edge of my eyes. While the scene outside is clean with new snow, the gritty cold of the glass is the sharp line between the outside light and the dark raw wood within.

I learned long ago that it is easier for me to write the pain of life than it is to write the joy. This does not mean I am depressed or that my life is so horrible. It means that improv in the minor keys is easier to maintain without false notes than improv in the major keys. This is fundamental in music as well as poetry. It is not that my skill level is higher in the minor keys. Instead, it is that there are fewer false notes since dissonance is built in to things in the minor keys.

It is helpful that I am fond of dissonance and the suspension it supports. Perhaps this is overly technical, a musician's joy, the fun of making music rather than the appreciation of the finished work. I would rather be the musician than listen to him any day. I would rather write than read poetry.

Imagination being what it is, I honor where it goes, especially when it is guided by a master like Wyeth. Do not be concerned. I am not revealing my struggles per se, nor am I complaining in real time. I, like you no doubt, have suffered real agony in my days but not right now. It is easy for me to fictionalize after as much practice as has been given me in my later decades.

Sleepless Night

I have pulled myself
off the floor, off my bruised knees.
The warnings they give
tell me there's no good
can come of winter this year
and the cold pane view
confirms your absence
old enough to give no sign
in the falling snow.

I feel in my teeth
the biting of the north wind,
an exposed nerve, sharp
and cracking me wide
open like the bad thin skin
wrapping my ankle,
just above the knob.
This foretells my fall.

I risk
infection despite
all I try to do.
All is virginal out there,
but in here, bad air.

January 26, 2014 7:50 AM


  1. love your poem but also the piece you write before.....most people read my stuff and thinki ts all happening right here, right now were in truth its all just fragments that sometimes get pushed together...xx

  2. Hmm. Similar thoughts to what I had in mind, but you did it with more of the harshness I was trying to figure. This one goes to you my friend

  3. Your first prose piece took my attention...about major and minor choice, and although I prefer minor too, in major for me - the goal, the positivity I work at lately, so even playing minor - always trying to find bright release after dissonance, tears of happiness ~ you wrote cozy not winter story ~ :)

  4. I found your notes as fascinating as the poem .. 'it is that there are fewer false notes since dissonance is built in to things in the minor keys' ~~ so true.

  5. I agree....your notes before your poem are jsut as important and meaningful as the poem.
    Thank you!

  6. I believe the best music, writing, acting, painting - whatever the art - is significantly better when the person has lived a life of conflict, struggle, pain, etc. Complex individuals with raw emotions translate well in the arts. In the arts, dark is always more interesting than light, complex more interesting than simple.

    1. I rather think a triumphant bright piece can travel in the darker regions on the way to climax and be the best music can offer, but it is difficult to see how absenting the dark can help music. I know there are people who go to considerable lengths to avoid pain, suffering and death. I want to make room for them in my world. However, death is not my enemy and I notice that much of my old age is about making peace with discomfort.

  7. One of my favorites today, and not a note of dissonance to be found.


  8. This was such a wonderfully honest and thought provoking read. I loved it! When I read your poem in conjunction with your shared thoughts, I felt honesty and I love, love honesty!! You can't have dark without light or light without dark ... The same could be said of pain & peace! What would life be like without these contrasts!!

  9. One of my favorites of yours to date, Christ. Oh I want to throw open the window and breath fresh air...

    1. :D *smooch* only I am definitely not Christ. I turned that roll down back in 1966, just in case it got offered... no one ever accused me of lacking grandiosity!


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