Someone asked me if I had a lot of time on my hands. Not particularly, but I was trying to find a different title for a new chapbook, and thought maybe anagrams might loosen me up. They didn't, nor for the title, but while I was there, I tried out some other names, including Donald James Trump. More than 18,000 came up; these caught my eye:
Madam Splendor Jut
Dreamland Jump Sot
Mandates Lord Jump
Adman Retold Jumps
Madder Sunlamp Jot
Traded Salmon Jump
Majored Slant Dump
Laden Stardom Jump
Deals Mordant Jump
Modal Rants Jumped
A Rant Molded Jumps
Deadpans Jolt Mr. Um
Ram Pudenda, Jolt Ms.
Ram Dad Pen Jolts Um
Rump Adman Sold Jet
Rump Adds Mean Jolt
As we drove out of Los Angeles on our way to San Francisco, we saw a wildfire just getting started. All but the last photo are taken from a moving car. Time elapsed between the first four is roughly 2 minutes each. The final photo is taken about 30 miles and 40 minutes after the first. As you can see, smoke from the fire has spread to cover most of the horizon. Here is how to read the smoke: the initial black is soot from the burgeoning fire; the white is steam from the plants that still had a bit of moisture but had it boiled out by the flames; the final dirty white/pale gray is the drape of ash spreading over the landscape. This was in the general area of the Sand fire. When we drove back six days later, the fire was only 40% contained. The air made me cough, hard, every time we got out of the car.
There was the family vacation with two kids under 4, and my daughter-in-law's mother, whom I adore, but it got to be a lot of people. However, I did teach her the meaning of the word tchotchkes, of which our rented house was full. This is the stag's head, and the wooden sculpture of a hand, that greeted us when we walked in.
Then my computer went mute and dark. Our resident savior, Dr. Bob, managed to save all my files, but I didn't have access to them until yesterday. This with the promise of a book getting published in October, if I could get all the materials in by July 15.
Now the computer is back, as are my files. Now I get to reenter every password and upload every program I use regularly. Yes, I'm complaining. Yes, I'm glad to be back.
This morning in June, the skies are overcast and pleasantly gloomy. Within a week we'll have temperatures in the 90s (that's Fahrenheit; in the 30s Celsius). But June and gloom remind me of a poem I came up with using Dragonspeak.
Do you remember Dragonspeak, a program for transmuting spoken input into written word? I think it must have been named for Robert Heinlein's Sir Isaac Newton, a Venusian 'dragon' who carried around a 'voder' that gave simultaneous translation of 'his' Venusian speech into English. Also, dragons, right?
You will not be surprised to read that I consider myself well-spoken, not only articulate but also clear-spoken, properly-pronounced, articulate. Yeah, consider all you want, Karen. Dragonspeak had to be trained, which is to say corrected, to account for individual differences in pronunciation. I set out confidently declaiming Shakespeare's Sonnet 18: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Dragonspeak came back with something very different. I tried again, enunciating the hell out of that puppy. What came back was not the same, but was no better.
I confess: I got annoyed. I started mocking the program, reading back to it what it have me. This make for an interesting positive feedback loop, where my input reflected and (apparently) heightened Dragonspeak's particular algorithm.
What follows below is a section of that bout of petulance, that fit of pique. I would say that it almost means something. It is found, in the sense that I did not change the order of words nor add words, though I did add punctuation. This was one of four poems published in the now-defunct Status Hat Artzine, in the March 2011 issue on Tools, edited byMojie Davis
I go a little, fall again, but you are here.There is you, meaning a pain, pain and
ravine. You are the root of the year.Usually you are here, and so am I.I am in boot camp, easy on you.I
love the movie of the June forlorn.I’d
utilize one written word (you name it ) in young orange.In pinyu Hang Zhou was written:one.You were one.In Asia, words mean pain.Gone, and here’s to dwell on:breathe together every night, until each
breath is his.You know you exude those
you lose.A savior shocked into flying
will save your new moon.Stay cool and
unknown. The flaw in downfall never owned old clocks not Yumanot Omaha not Houston
no more.Something clean is in that
country.Be gone, safety.It comes to be a symptom.Newfound fame was stones seeking family,
compensating soaking sleep of time.It
was stones, good enough to say goodnight.
Or at least, it's going to be a book. Right now it's a couple of file folders and a Word file, entitled The Book of Knots and Their Untying. It is also the latest addition to the Aldrich Press, whose editor, Karen Kelsay, offered me publication Monday. Now I have a raft of new tasks: develop a cover photo (the above photo is the first mock-up, but I'm not done yet); solicit blurbs from the more esteemed poets of my acquaintance (two refusals already, well, I didn't have to wait very long); get ready to set up readings once I get a publication estimate.
And also try to answer in my heart: is it good enough? Am I a good enough writer to have a book? I have had reverence for books ever since I knew what they were. I was never a kid who scribbled on printed pages. I thought Doctor Doolittle was real because he was in a book. (Okay, I got past that one.) Maybe a writer is one who writes, as a dancer is one who dances. Maybe good enough needs to be replaced by what W.S. Merwin said in an interview about artists: "Now is the time to do what only I can be doing."