Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 20: Royal Wedding, Classic Saint Marty, "Place in the Forest"

I am really tired today for some reason.  I was up late last night, early this morning.  Church. Then, I got a new used oven this afternoon.  It's beautiful, and all the burners work--a departure from what I'm used to.  This evening, we are celebrating my sister Rose's birthday.  So, I just finished wrapping presents for her.

Now, while I'm waiting for my wife and son to return from a Boy Scout end-of-year banquet, I'm writing this blog post and watching stuff on TV about Harry and Meghan's royal wedding, which took place yesterday.  I didn't really get caught up in all the hype this weekend.  However, curiosity has gotten the better of me.

Perhaps, this evening, after the party, I'll be able to write a little.  Read a little.  Drink a little.  It's strange that my weekends often leave me just as tired as the rest of the week.  Of course, it's back to the grind tomorrow.

A few years ago, I was thinking a lot about part-time work and full-time dreams (and vice versa) . . .

May 20, 2015:  New Expenses, Part-Time Dreams, Dodo

Once settled in, Ives decided, having so many new expenses, to find a full-time job, and eventually began his long tenure with the Mannis Advertising Agency...

Working in advertising was not Ives' dream.  He wanted to be a serious artist, with paintings hanging in MoMA and the Met.  He wanted to draw for Disney, with his creations on kids' shirts and cereal bowls.  Yet, Ives has a wife and kids that he has to support, so he settles.  He takes a job that pays the bills and provides health insurance and paid vacations.  He never becomes Picasso.

My medical office job is a lot like Ives' job at the Mannis Advertising Agency.  It started out as a part-time gig while I was in graduate school, getting my MFA.  I was filling in for a woman out on maternity leave.  The woman never came back.  Part-time turned into full-time turned into 17 years.  It wasn't my dream to have a career in the medical field.  It still isn't my dream.  I've settled.  For my wife and kids.  For stability.  For a home.

I still have dreams of becoming a famous writer.  That's why I write this blog every day.  It keeps my dream alive somehow.  I know people are reading my words.  Maybe people are even being moved by what I post.  I write poems and essays.  I conduct writing workshops for community school programs.  I volunteer to teach poetry to elementary school students.

I do all these things because to not do them would mean that I have given up.  That my dreams have gone the way of the passenger pigeon and dodo.  I'm not quite ready for that.  I don't want my epitaph to be "Professional Clinic Office Clerk."  I would much prefer "Poet" or "Teacher" or "Thinker" or "Dreamer."  I could live with any of those titles.

Saint Marty doesn't want to be a dodo.

I wonder if he dreamed of being an ostrich

And I do have a poem today--an old one that I haven't thought about in a long time.  It used to be the poem people requested the most at readings.  It seems like it was written by a stranger . . .

Place in the Forest

by:  Martin Achatz

With one B-B, Paul took the squirrel down.
When it hit the ground, it screamed
A squirrel scream, high and long
Like a train whistle raised five octaves.
It scratched the earth
Like it was trying to dig its own grave,
A bead of blood flowering on its back.
Paul and I watched it spasm and slow,
A wind-up toy uncoiling its tense spring.
It raced breath in-out-in-out-in-out-in-out.

In school, we read about Vlad the Impaler
Who feasted on roasted pig in a field of people
On spikes.  The wood-cut illustration showed
Vlad sipping wine from a chalice
As a pregnant woman slithered down
A pointed pole, her mouth a black leech of pain.
Paul found a stick, skewered the squirrel,
Which writhed, scratched at the bark.
He lifted the stick, raised the squirrel
To the sky.  Its tail snaked and batted
The clouds.  Paul flung the squirrel
Into the woods, its scream cleaving the air.

Ten years later, he died of AIDS.
I thought of that squirrel when I heard
Stories of the red sarcoma blossoms
On his face.  I imagined him
In his hospital bed, his chest heaving,
His eyes seeing that place in the forest
Where squirrels wail and claw.

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