Category Archives: uncategorized

Couple of thoughts I need to pass on to all my readers

Taking a moment.

I’ve made no secret of my mental health issues over the years. I have bipolar disorder II, which in my particular case includes a healthy portion of suicidal ideation that is impulsive, rarely related to my current circumstances, and by now, after thirty some years since my diagnosis, pretty easy to counteract. 

When I’m writing about things like my mood and thoughts of death and suicide, it almost always means that I’m NOT CURRENTLY DEALING WITH THAT.  I write when I have my cycling and moods and impulses UNDER CONTROL. I write about those things in retrospect — for others to read and consider, and because the condition naturally leads me to insights on existential issues like life and death and pain and joy.

You should NOT feel a need to offer advice or encouragement based on reading one of my poems. I’ve been handling mental health crises since I was in my late teens in a wide variety of ways and had multiple meds, therapists, and psychiatrists to help. If the disease kills me (not likely as I’ve got other illnesses that are more immediately dangerous at this stage of life) it kills me.  Such is the way of the world. 

A corollary: my poems are not about “self-expression” — they are neither journalistic nor strictly autobiographical. Please don’t assume I’m reporting real events as they occurred.  I’m a creative writer. I create situations, sometimes based on real life, sometimes created out of thin air, and usually somewhere in between — and then I write.

I pursue truth which only rarely involves strictly capturing and reporting facts. 

It’s a complex balance but one I’ve managed for over fifty years or so. I’m sorry if this troubles anyone, but it’s the path I’m on and have always been on. 

To the point: my output lately has been low because I’m struggling with health issues both mental and physical as well as financial and family concerns. It takes a lot of time and energy and I need to prioritize those things right now. I’ll be back, no worries. 

Thanks,
Tony


A brief note to my readers

You’ve likely noticed a pretty significant drop in my output of late, and I’d like to explain why.

First off, I’m spending a great deal of time and energy in caring for my mother, who is 94 and was recently diagnosed with moderate dementia. She has severe mobility issues, still live alone in the family home, with my sister living next door and me about 25 minutes away. My sister is pretty sick too with a fairly rare autoimmune disorder and associated flare ups and consequent conditions that especially of late have rendered her less than able to do all she typically does. Hence, I’ve been there a lot handling issues and daily concerns, including estate and insurance stuff related to the estate of my late father. It’s a lot and is both physically and emotionally exhausting, so my energy for doing this work is pretty depleted, though I’m still up by first light most mornings to try. 

Second, my finances are disastrous right now; my consulting practice, always slow at this time of year, has been downright anemic and I’m scrambling for every dollar. That takes time and energy, too. 

Third — on top of everything else, my own health is not great. Diabetes complications like neuropathy in my feet and fingers makes it very hard to do certain daily tasks and adds to my exhaustion at the end of the day. There is, also, a cognitive problem going on — short term memory issues and ability to negotiate complex thinking at times aren’t easy to deal with, and I’m usually pretty much in a fog by late afternoon and evening on many days. (Not saying more about this issue, and not entertaining advice. I know what’s going on. Some of it is aging, some of it is not. Right now, that’s all I’m going to say.)

I recently received an award for a history of achievements and support of poetry in this area. It was sweet, but I’m unable to think of it as other than a “lifetime achievement award.” Can’t help thinking the the timing is about right for that. (A joke, but more than a little sobering.) 

Still, I’m plugging away at a full length manuscript; still doing readings; still producing work and maintaining my Patreon site as an alternate way of getting work out there and generating income. I’m still here, and I hope that certain things my sister and I are doing to bring professional in home care to my mom will ease some burdens in relatively short order. 

Thanks for reading. Still here, a little slower than before, but still going. I’ll be here as long as I can be. Promise.

T


Time off

I’ve pretty much stopped writing at the moment.

Kinda like a light switch turned off — or on, perhaps. Like, oh, look. This isn’t really necessary.

Feels pretty good, I must say. Surprising.

I don’t expect this to last forever, but it might. I mean, I might die before I return to the Work. Anything is possible.

Plenty here to read in the meantime. 

Thanks,
T


4000

The poem I posted this morning, “Fox On The Run,” is the 107th new poem I’ve posted on the blog this year.

I started keeping track of how many new poems I’ve posted on this blog on January 1st, 2010. This poem is number 4,000 over that time period. There are probably another 3,000 or so in the archives I’ve kept, online and on paper, since 1974.

That works out to about .89 poems a day, which seems like a reasonable way of putting it as many aren’t even real poems according to some folks. (Don’t listen to them. Let’s round up and say it’s an average of a poem a day, shall we?)

I’ve always nicknamed this bookkeeping “the Meaningless Goal,” although it has a more specific meaning and purpose for me that I don’t share with others, and I won’t share here.

More to the point, it represents a way of looking at the Work I Do that I think does matter — which is that many of them, most of them in fact, are mediocre at best and do more for the Work as a whole than they do standing alone as indivdual poems. I just decided to make it all public and available, rather than hiding it away.

I have a manuscript of selected poems in progress now. It stands at about 50 poems I’d be glad to be remembered for when I die. I’m ok with that. The blog will remain as the rest of the iceberg I struck upon before sinking. I’m ok with that too.

I’m not done adding to the Work yet, but I thought it worth noting that as poets go, I’m only moderately talented but I put in work to the point of exhaustion sometimes.

I try not to fall into the trap of putting any individual poem’s perfection before its service to the Work overall. (In other words, I edit and polish but recall that there’s always another poem to be written.)

I’m 62 and I feel like I’m just now getting to be the poet I knew I could be.

Back to work.


Revisions

Just made some revisions to the “Patreon” and “Show schedule, Tracks, and more” pages here. Updated links, etc.

An FYI only, but I’d love to have you check them out when you have time.  


Notice

My father passed away this morning at the age of 89 from advanced Parkinson’s disease. I will be away from writing here for several days, at least.  

I will be back. Thanks. 


An important note

Just letting everyone know that my output these days is low because we are dealing with multiple health crises in my family at the moment, and I’m the only member of the crew who is (crossed fingers) on my feet most consistently right now. 

I’m trying to get things finished and posted but…

Be patient. I’ll be back soon.  

Thanks.


Working on…

A music project. Poems to return in a day or so.


Unfamiliar

Never imagined
that my memory could
disappear, but it is. The letters of words
are themselves becoming new.

Definitions seem fresh again —
you ask me for a memory of you
that makes me smile — what is a smile?
Those letters are unfamiliar.

I’m not even sure how I’m writing this.
Muscle-habit, maybe; the gross framing
of my body doing a better job
of it than my brain can now.

My world that has depended
on my being certain of what I already know
is turning into smoke so much of the time.
It’s fine. I’ll slip into a sea of forgetting;

I’ll be fine there.




break

taking a few days off to recharge and rest up after some minor health issues.
read some poems from the past.
see you soon — I appreciate your attention.


Spells

A tiger and a grove of cedars,
a door and one dead tree.

A sword with an apple on its tip, a seeded cake,
a crow perched within a heart-topped arch of iron.

A stone with a voice, a goat dancing the tarantelle,
a blue-tinged wind hurrying leaves of blood along.

Something happening. Chilled backbones,
wet lips, trembling hands. Sorting the beings
in our minds, wondering how they mean.

All the possible revolving meanings
of transformed symbols falling into
their respective places.

If there’s a prophecy here it is open
to interpretation, but not
to doubt in its existence.

If it is an affirmation,
what it empowers
is hidden from us.


Fragment From Remnant

It keeps getting harder.

Small things. Triggers.

Deeper holes, steeper sides.

Darker, darkest; pure and wholesome darkness.

Not a man. A flesh wound. A mere annoyance.


Be back soon

Just getting through some stuff. Back soon. Sorry about the delay.

T


Labor Day

Originally posted 9/5/2011. Revised.

The rude elements
dressed your dirt-blessed hand.
Do not apologize for it.
Make the rich,
the distastefully clean,
shake it.  Make them see you: 
tired, aging too fast,
forearms threaded strong
from work. Force them
to see your clothes: how thin the fabric
on your jeans, the patches, 
the tears.  

Give them a moment
to take it all in,
then smack them. Seize their throats
and impress upon them
the everlasting schedule
of your simplified days —
each day you rise, sup,
work, sup, work, sup,
and sleep,
a routine broken
only by the time you steal back
to make a home, make children,
bounce the baby on your greasy knee.

None of the dirt you carry makes you
unclean. All of it was borne to make them
what they are. You deserve this anger
as you count pennies,
consider famine,
make do.  

You’re more glue
for this shiny cracked country
than any glitter-fed celebrity
or squinting dollar-breeding usurer;
make it known. Grab them one and all 
by their hands and at the very least,
make them shake yours — show them
that honest tan under your grime.

If their fear is a likely result,
it may be the wedge 
to open the doors
they’ve kept barred for so long.
Who better than you
to open them? Only your shoulder,
so long pressed to their wheels,
can possibly burst those locks.


About That Candle…

It’s said that it is better to light a candle
than curse the dark.

It used to be on a poster somewhere;
now it shows up on flickering screens.

Some of us have learned
how to be at greater peace in darkness

than we ever could be in the light.
Know this: that benevolent flame hurts

from out here. It reminds us
of where we are and how we are

not you. How we have adapted, how some
have even found a way to thrive

in darkness. Out here hope
is a danger, as it has been snuffed out so often

that to approach your distant candle
is an invitation to darkness

more profound for its rushing to take us back
just as we begin to adapt to light

and to imagine that we could have
what you have — although in truth,

some of what we saw there before
the wick failed left us puzzled: why would

what you have be any better than what we have
here — you with your sharp definitions, your

assumed clarity? Out here the world is soft,
we are careful to assume nothing,

and if we ever have cause
to light a fire

it will be one so fed and informed
by the dark we have always called home

that it will make the Shadow
you want to eliminate

grow so large you will beg us
for a way out, for understanding.