It’s amazing how different I feel after being away from the computer for awhile, and how much I enjoyed being without it. I suffered no withdrawal. Rather, I eased into a period of intense reading that refreshed me in mind and spirit, and inspired me in ways that only books and reading can. At the same time, the sudden change in my daily pattern made me feel, also, that I was rehearsing for my death — that time when, in all likelihood, I will no longer write, or even feel the need to do so; that time when I will sit, finally, and read to my heart’s content in a silent world of my own bright imagining.
As luck would have it, on the very day my computer went down, I received another shipment of books from the generous poet Gerry Boyd. Back in June, you might recall, Gerry kindly sent me around fifty titles. The new shipment was more than double that amount, ringing in at around 120 books, a fair portion of which contain poetry and criticism. Also included are wonderful novels, biographies, plays, and anthologies. This picture reveals only the tip of the iceberg:
I quickly devoured John Malcolm Brinnin’s Dylan Thomas in America, in which the author recounts the great poet’s reading tours in America in the early 1950s and his tragic last years. Since then, among other things, I’ve been reading aloud my son’s copy of Thomas’s Selected Poems, the edition released by New Directions in 2003. The poems are so musical, they really must be read aloud. For me, they ring like a prophet’s lament.
While the bulk of my time was spent reading, much was also spent thinking — but not in the form of writing, as I usually do. I did purchase three new back-to-school notebooks that were on sale for fifteen cents, but I hardly used them. Instead, I just let my mind drift, as if thoughts were clouds.
The first time I checked email on my son’s computer, I learned that an old family friend my mother’s age had died suddenly and unexpectedly. Healthy, he simply went out like a light.
The second time I checked email, I learned that another old friend from our hometown had forgotten how to walk and is now in a small nursing home about a mile from where we used live. Contrary to his generous character, he has also become belligerent and unreasonable. I also learned that his wife has advanced lung cancer and that her grandchildren take turns spending the night with her.
That same day, I learned that another poet friend, who has battled serious health problems for the past year, has been struggling of late, to the point that his doctor was unsure he would pull through. But I’ve heard since that his condition has stabilized somewhat. Through his sister, he was even able to send his regards.
Here is a drawing I made on August 8, and my last to date:
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Do you like it? Is it silly? Appalling? Does it communicate anything at all?
It’s funny — I feel I have so much more to say. And yet, at the moment, I’m far more interested in what you have to say. That’s something I’ve really missed. Your thoughts. Our exchanges.
Note: As I typed that last sentence, an email arrived saying my sick poet-friend had another seizure yesterday, and that his last hospital stay “took everything out of him.” He stays at a care home; they aren’t taking him to the hospital this time.
In the Forum: Howl cigarettes.