Fuckin’ A

A lot of people say they love books, that they love to read. A lot of people. But what books do they love? What do they read? In a forum I came upon on books and reading, I looked at responses to, “What do you read?” Some of them said, “The good book.” (Or, “The Good Book.”) Jesus Christ.

Years ago, a co-worker, who saw me reading during break, said, “Oh, you like to read?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Me too,” she says. “I like Danielle Steel. Do you know her?”

“Uh, yeah. I’ve heard of her,” I said, “but I’ve never read any of her books.”

“Oh, she’s great,” the woman said. “I really like her.”

Danielle Steel is a prolific and popular author. In the early 90’s, I wanted to know what made Steel so popular. I didn’t admit to this co-worker that I had tried to read a Steele novel. My youngest sister had some of her novels, so I asked to borrow one. She liked Now and Forever, so, she thought I might like that one. Holy shit, right off the bat, I was bored. I thought the mentality was lame. Halfway through the second page, I couldn’t go on. It was awful! Simplistic, shallow, trivial. I couldn’t stomach it. It surprised me that my sister enjoyed it. It surprised her that I hated it. But millions of people, around the world, no less, love Steel’s novels. According to wiki, over 800 million of her books had sold as of 2005. Fuckin’ A! Steel lives in a mansion here in the city. It’s a San Francisco landmark, a French Baroque chateau that was built in 1912. Fuckin’ A.

Well, good for her. Am I jealous? No. Can’t say that I am. Would I like to be rich? Fuckin’ A, who wouldn’t? But I don’t necessarily want to live in a mansion. I don’t crave wealth; I don’t covet bling. It would just be awesome to earn a living as a creative (or better yet, artistic) writer. Yeah, that I do envy, how she makes her living.

I took a look recently at a blog by a self-published novelist with advice for folks wanting to self-publish. On her site, she keeps a list of books she’s read so far this year, having set herself a goal of X number of books to read by year’s end. I never heard of any of the books or authors on her list. Seemed a boring list to me. Her own self-published novel looked boring to me too, just from the title and cover. It seemed fluffy, Steel-like. Actually, her blog bored me too. Not that she doesn’t offer excellent advice. For some people. But not for me. Not my cup of tea. Not my bag, you know? But this self-published author is apparently a successful writer. Good for her.

Many, many, many years ago, I took a writing course from a crazy broad. It was the only writing course I ever hated, the only writing instructor I didn’t like. I won’t name her because she’s famous. I don’t wish her ill, but fuck her! Loony bitch was a nightmare. She appalled me, as much as she wigged me out. But she’s a hotshot, fucking famous, so, fuck me. Never mind that she was (is) a nut job, at the very least, inappropriate and stupid, still, she has literary fame (in academia). I’ve wanted to write a story about my experience for years. A fictionalized version. It’s taken me twenty years just to get a rough draft. Writing comes easy for some folks. Not for me. Shit! Shit, shit, shit!

Last week, a nightmare woke me. I was shaken and couldn’t get back to sleep. I turned on the TV, and clicked on channel 9, PBS. After a few minutes, holy shit! It was her! The fucking, crazy broad! Fuckin A! I quickly turned off the TV. I felt myself sink into a hole. I got depressed. Very depressed. I was lying on my bed, on my back, eyes open, looking up into the dark, into a black nothing, staring into a pitch-black void. I’m nothing, I thought, I’m nothing. But then I checked my thoughts. I can’t feel sorry for myself. I can’t do that. Don’t do that, I said to myself. But, yeah, man, it kills me. It just fucking kills me. She’s famous. I’m nobody.

Fuck it, man, who knows? Anything can happen. I’m still alive. I have to stay strong and think positive. Think positive. And, too, I have to accept myself for whatever it is that I am or am not. That’s all. I don’t crave fame. Per se. It’s the writing that matters to me. I want my writing to matter. Fuckin’ A, if I wrote only one novel that made it, that would make me happy. Or a book of short stories, or a book of poems. Just one successful piece of shit, goddamnit.

I’m reading Gardens in the Dunes, by Leslie Marmon Silko. She’s one of my favorite writers, a woman I admire very, very much. Ceremony is my favorite Silko novel. Almanac of the Dead is chilling. I loved reading it. One day I will re-read it. I’ve read Ceremony twice. I think of it often, given the times we live in.

I love Charles Bukowski. I first came across his name in a poem by Raymond Carver, back in the early 80’s. In this poem, Carver writes about a woman who confuses him (or rather, the speaker in the poem) with Bukowski. I was curious as to who this dude might be. I found Notes of a Dirty Old Man, a collection of Bukowski short stories in a used book store. The title amused me. I don’t know why. I’ve encountered actual dirty, old men (and young ones too, for that matter) in my life, and I have never been amused. Disgusting bastards! Yet, this title amused me. I bought the book and read the stories. Bukowski’s writing is hilarious: raucous, wild, mad, irreverent, and full of bravado. But there is also an underlying sensitivity. Fuckin’ A, I love Bukowski.

Jesus’ Son is my favorite book to read. It’s the only book I’ve ever read back to back. I finished reading it, then went back to the beginning and read it one more time. I’ve read it six times, so far. I love it’s dark, poetic beauty. I think Johnson’s writing is sensual. I find it very sexy, and intense. I love Denis Johnson. So much. I haven’t read Train Dreams yet, but it’s on my list.

Sometimes I like my writing. Other times I feel incompetent. If I can crack myself up, then I’m happy. I write to amuse myself. But I struggle to write. I struggle to get at it.

I write poetry, if poetry it is, because I want to be a poet. I want to be a poet, because I love poetry. I was walking home from the library once. This man, Alfonso, sees me passing by, and he stops me and says, “Hey, are you a poet?” He’d seen me read. I knew he expected me to say, “Yes, I’m a poet.” But I didn’t. I couldn’t.

“Am I a poet?” I say. He nods. I think about it for a few seconds, turning to look up the street, as if I’ll find the answer out there in the distance. “Um, I, I don’t know,” I answer. Am I, I’m wondering? “Uh, I really don’t know. I’m not sure,” I tell him. He looks surprised and confused. “But, um, it’s a possibility,” I say, nodding my head. We both burst out laughing.

In mid-April an idea for a poem came to me. It took two weeks before the first lines came to me, and another two to find the rest of the words I needed. I need the right words to say exactly what I want to say. Here is the poem I wrote.

(I wanted to upload an audio of my reading it, but the blog machinery didn’t allow it. “For security reasons,” it said. Oh, hell. That would’ve been fun. Oh, well.)

Good-bye, Boy

When you said good-bye,
I didn’t cry, give a sigh,
or even bat an eye.

Your ego got too big,
baby. Boy. You don’t know.
I can chew a chunk
of your heart
and spit it out.

You can’t cut me.
Clown,
you aren’t that sharp.

Go on, go.
Hit the road.
Don’t expect me
to give a shit.

Fool, my love was pure,
a heart full of affection.

But you blew it, Bozo.

It flew into the air
and scattered
like ashes and dust
in the wind.

It’s too bad.
I don’t feel sad,
or mad, or glad.

Advertisements

About Poet Dressed In Black

Poet living in San Francisco. I like telling stories too. I'm an introvert, and I like, need, solitude. I find that depth is a rare quality. Someone once said to me, "You're a very deep person. It must be really hard living like that. Most people aren't that deep." I said, "Yeah. It is hard. It really is."
This entry was posted in Autobiographical, Poetry, Reading, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.