Sunday, May 24, 2009

steady now

today's horoscope predicted that i will fall back in love with life. yesterday my nerves were all shot and life and me were having a row. it'd been a long week with next week not looking any better. but sure enough my horoscope proved prescient. after the previous weekend's triple digit temperatures, this weekend is down right gorgeous. i have the window open as i type and there is a cool breeze and the air is soft and feeling rather snuggly.

i posted that bit from tom andrews yesterday because i'd pulled the book from the shelf quite by random. i'd wanted something to read in the john. it is a memoir, written in prose and verse, that i've read many times over the years. andrews was the first poet i'd read from my generation who had written of eating at kentucky fried chicken, listening to jimi hendrix, seeing the clash and studying the paintings of joan miro. in short, his was a kindred spirit and i found his work by chance while reading an excerpt of his long poem by the same name as his memoir 'codeine diary' in the magazine harper's in the early '90s when i was an undergrad and working as a night janitor. by the time i hit my twenties i knew i wanted to be a poet. but i'd yet to meet poets my own age. all the poets that i read in the journals of the time seemed to be born in the 1920s and discovering andrews was like a tall glass of cool water after a long trek in the desert.

andrews was a hemophiliac and passed away at a very, very, very early age. i have read all but his collected poems. he even wrote poems as film scripts that influenced my own thinking of poetry and the movies. andrews wrote from the position of gratitude; a stance easily forgotten in our irony-rich age. he was a happy poet. i've no idea if he was a happy man, and his poetry is not without confusion and despair, but for the most part he was, as i read him, a poet so delighted in the mysteries of being that it is difficult not to share in his delight.

it was the right book for me to pick up at the right time. all by chance, not providence, but a gracious luck. i've no idea if andrews also influenced my own thinking of randomness and luck, i think auden also held some sway. however, i've been reading this poet for now two decades, which in my lifespan accounts for a significant amount of time. at this stage in my life i've reduced my responses to things that lie in either two poles: 1) happy, which is obviously a good, and 2) not happy, which speaks for itself. happiness is i think it's own reward. to be happy does not mean the end of depression or despair. to be happy means to know that this one life is a gift. what one does with this one life is all that matters. there is no fame, no immortality, no such thing as self-importance. if you are a creative person all you can ask for is that maybe some other persons might take pleasure and maybe even nourishment from your work. that's all. and by that measure andrews makes me happy.


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