Quoting Pat Conroy

I’ve been reading more Pat Conroy. I continue to be impressed with his ability to tell the story and to talk about his life and the lives of others entwined with his. Mostly, I treasure and envy his awesome craft of writing, his vocabulary, and how smooth it flows as I read. I have no right to judge the writing of anyone, much less a man with such a gift.

What I feel as I read his words is not so much judging (as in “love it”). It is about me and my experiences, feelings, and thoughts about a man who was born less than one year before I was; who grew up when I did, but under very different circumstances, and who seems to have lived a life that I oddly, but resonantly, relate to in many twisted and indirect ways. Autobiographical fiction; strangely, I get it.

Except for graphics, the following quotes taken from his writings are my notes. Any error is mine. This was me stopping the flow of my reading to write down Pat’s words. Cuz, picture it, me saying “wow” while reading and then grabbing my notebook.

I have been using Public Library e-books lately, so I cannot highlight as with paper books or on my Kindle app. Yet, writing them down in my notebook may be better for increased mental indelibility and the likelihood of my sharing.

I grouped these by category and added my comments. I realize that context is lost by such grab-and-go’s, but I like them. The photos and memes are not my work, except to click “copy as.”

About writing, reading, and writers

“Fear is the major cargo that American writers must stow away when the writing life calls them into its carefully chosen ranks.” (Agree. I do. I must.)

“…nothing is more natural in his (Tolstoy) world than the mysterious and necessary attraction of men and women…their attraction for each other and impending marriage seems part of the design of the Universe, as right as the stars that make up the belt of Orion.” (Pat read War and Peace three times.)

“Teach me how to die.” (This is one of those phrases when I think, “I wonder what he meant?” Context!)

“I want to always be writing the book I was born to write.” (Exactly.)

“But I’m speaking of all the yesterdays that will not come again.” (Old guys say cool shit like that.)

“…that I get to live in the Old New York Book Shop on the night of a book party.” (This was Pat’s idea of heaven after he died. That book store is no longer there, but it was a big deal to him. Do you have a place like that? A memory so profound and pleasurable that it would do for a permanent state in an afterlife?)

“Nothing is more difficult to overcome than a childhood of privilege….” (Or abusive parents.)

“My childhood taught me everything I needed to know about the dangers of love….” (I intend to use this when I write more on the paradox of love.)

“We got some things right.” (About writing, the publishing writing world, and himself.)

Regarding Norman Berg, Pat’s friend and book rep., “He was a hard man who dismissed fools without conscience or regret…. He was an easy man to dismiss, and a hard one to love.”

“Know everything. Feel everything. That’s your job as a writer.” (Said Norman Berg to Pat, quoted by Pat.)

“The tribe is contentious, the breed dangerous.” (Regards writers and why he claimed to have few friends among them. Pat Conroy had many friends, and many of them were writers. I don’t really know enough writers to have an opinion, but the ones I know, while seemingly neither contentious or dangerous; most are unapologetically opinionated. Norm Berg’s job description?)

“The world of writers was a snake hole, a circle of hell – a rat’s nest and a whirlpool and a dilemma – not just a world.” (Pat was opinionated. I wonder how he felt about French writers? See is time in Paris, below.)

Pat’s youth and college days

“Two pillars of authority, patriarchal influences shaped my childhood. Dad and the Catholic Church. Punishment of anarchy. Contempt for anyone different.” (Mine, too.)

“There was an amazingly limitless capacity for ruthlessness at the heart of the family of man.” (Regards all of life, but learned from the plebe system. This is from The Lords of Discipline.)

“What will this make of me? A man, or a monster?” (Regards surviving his freshman year in college)

“A prize that exacted an awesome tithe of spirit from those who loved it.” (The Lords of Discipline)

“It was sublimation and surrender to the efficacy of denial.” (Pat had something specific in mind, but I can apply this to so many times in my life.)

“The history we are born into always seems natural when we are young, but it seems misshapen and grotesque as the winter years come upon us.” (I have had similar thoughts, but my experiences were a little less profound.)

New words for me

Three of many words I learned and liked reading Conroy: décolletage, oleaginous, and unctuous. (I am smiling and could go on and on and…)

His time in Paris

“Parisians and polar icecaps have a lot in common except that polar icecaps are warmer to strangers.”

“France is the only country in the world where friendliness is one of the seven deadly sins.”

(To be fair, Pat loved his time in France and cherished the memories. But why deny the French acting so “frenchly”?)

 

In our reading life, we must look both ways.
In writing, mind the damn gaps.

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Poetry – Imagine This Dream

Is this life a mere dream,
a trance of yours, of mine, a life of ours?
Is my dream just a story,
well designed by mankind?

Must we just die, then and only
to taste the fine wine of the gods?

From some deep sleep must my mind to awake?
Is my dream a divine test, another deal to fake?
Is it only my dream; or ours, this life we make?

Right or wrong, this dream’s much too real,
there is no mistake, and there is no such deal.

What are the answers?
Is truth standing naked?

Nightmares I’ve had, it’s the same for you.
Be there no gods; many, or few;
life is still true. I can feel just how real
I love this dream, in good times and sad.

Yet my time to dream has mostly gone past,
a good life I’ve had with my role in our cast.

Imagine our mysteries and mystical rants,
not like some koan or in magical chants,
Be slave to no master, to no god’s self-will.
Seek no hereafter, no heaven nor hell.

Love life right now, and be fully aware,
soon it will happen, you’re no longer there.

If only the end is all that you seek,
one you’ve not seen, but do certainly dream,
please don’t follow the alluring mystique;
as it has been, my death’s my last scene.

So now in this life, be totally free.
The best of our dream’s what we honestly see.
Imagine all life surrounded with love,
something we feel, not from above.

When life seems too dark
and the future’s too bleak,
Let’s try to imagine this dream we all seek.

I long for our times,
entwined with each other,
seeking my true-love from a Mother who cures,
where light still finds its shining way in
and there’s good in all of creatures,
as Nature herself cares for all things.

From the beginning, now near to the end,
as close as we are, with you my dear friend,
imagine us living this dream we call this life.

Now and forever, true sisters and brothers,
it’s all that we have; right here and right now,
so let’s be so kind and love all that’s nature,
and push toward each other—
All the love we can find.

By Bill Reynolds 10/23/2017

 

Inspired by Lennon’s, Imagine.
Supported by my afflatuses.

 

Learn from the past, plan for the future, live in the present.
That’s looking both ways as you mind the gaps.

 

Poetry – Kaleidoscopic Transitions 1

We think it good, we think it bad,
we think it happy, we think it sad.
Transitions gap our evolving life.
Changes are scary,
transformations are mad.

Everything changes.

Born into kaleidoscope
with passion we creep,
from stumbling blocks
to stepping stones
we eventually leap,
crossing mortared passages
through well-tuned segues
our unplanned journey
continually changes.

First babes, then as children,
we transform into teens,
with hormones and zits
and other strange things.
To walk and to talk,
of this life we wonder,
what it all means
we continue to ponder.

Everything changes.

Back to the womb
we desire to go.
As we learn of the changes
we continue to grow,
but kaleidoscope says
the answer is no.

Thru constant transitions
always more progress.
Life brings us new lessons
and dappled confessions;
how excited we get
as we look for more color.

We twist the scope faster
by leaving the nest,
then we see it in others
that desire for best,
we discover ourselves
as never before, we are
with all the transitions
still frozen by fear
of uncertainty we abhor.

Everything changes.

What is our purpose?
Why are we here?
Why do these changes
bring us such fear?
Back to the past
or into the future;
Where do we go?
What must we know?
Need we keep changing
as we continue to grow?

Everything changes while
the gaudy scope turns.
We fear the next spin
and where it might end.
Continue we must
with this prismatical game,
long into life
and well after birth.

Because everything always changes. It’s never the same.

Bill Reynolds 9/25/2017

Up from the colors, stare into the gaps.
Look both ways at life’s many changes.

What Writing Rut?

I get it.

It’s not me. It’s you. Okay, it’s me!

I am feeling uninspired now, and have for months. I think I whined on this before. Is there such a thing as very uninspired? I have no idea if I can place a degree on it, like on a scale from one-to-ten. I know I’m okay, not panicked. I have ideas and I work on them. But I think other things (forces?) in my non-writing life are short-circuiting my writing and the transmissions from mind to this keyboard. Or maybe my mind is a void. I just can’t seem to complete what I want to do.

I can start things, but then I mentally bog down. I worked on several poems, some of which I have been picking at for weeks. After about an hour of working on one or more in my uninspired condition, I feel like the poems and I are both considerably worse off. I would get more done if I’d watched TV instead of playing writer, editor, or poet. The strange part is that no one else seems to think anything is wrong with me or my craft. Is what I feel something normal? Wife says it’s writer’s block. Could it be because the creative climb is too steep, and I’m using this dryness as an excuse? I continue to write something every day. Oh, poor pitiful me. My WordPress account is rusting.

I think about reading – but what? Books on writing or poetry? I’m honestly not in the mood for that either. I prefer to listen to music, but I haven’t been able to listen to music while I read or write in years. Music inspires me. Reading also inspires. Multi-tasking confuses me.

It’s been raining, normally that would help. I’m not tired. I wish I could write and finish what I start. But, I am writing. I want something inspirational. Maybe a few good lines in the poems, or perhaps I could drum up a coherent essay. How about writing a self-help blog on what to do when you are uninspired? Elizabeth Gilbert and my poet friend, Sue, would tell me that I am not being open to inspiration from the cosmos. I disagree. Okay, maybe they’re right. Assuming they are, then what? Hello, Cosmos of Inspiration, I am open here. Can we do a few lines? Not those kinds of lines – poetry. Prose, I suppose.

I read a couple of those ‘ta-da!’ blogs with all the answers before writing this. Seriously? Seven things to do when you feel uninspired. What a joke! How many ways can people come up with to say, “don’t be uninspired.” Get busy, they say. Fuck you, I say. Seriously. I’m not saying no to the inspirational meta-verse. If I could get busy (pause and sigh). Well, don’t they think I tried that? Ya know what I would like to do? I think I should drink. Get drunk and write, what I call “doing a Hemmingway.” I may not get anything constructive done, but I won’t care. Maybe a wee dab of doobie?

It’s Sunday. Okay, it was. I don’t know what day it is. But I would like to go to a bar, sit and sip a fine pint, and listen to some moron bitch and complain about some totally unimportant and irrelevant shit. I have no idea why that might help improve my writing dilemma. But something in me feels like listening to some neggy-Ned, so I can roll my eyes and feel superior to him (Nelly, if it be a her). I could say, “You think that’s bad? I can’t even finish a damn little poem!” Maybe I’d have a little crappy cryin’ in my beer C&W session, or some fine R&R music playing in the background. It would not inspire me and the only thing I would feel better about would be the contents of my stomach and a wee tingle in my semi-functional brain.

The thing is, I’m not bored. I am really quite fine (but, MS Word is trying to piss me off by underlining that and telling me that really and quite are unnecessary words, and it’s working. But I ain’t changing shit.). Here’s my plan.

I will go see what wife has on the flat screen. I will watch for a while, then excuse myself and head out for some nearby watering trough. I will sit there and pretend to write, or maybe read, but I’ll be people watching and eavesdropping. If you walk in and some old fart has a notepad out and is sort of eyeballing everyone, while sipping a tall, dark stout (beer with the appearance of coffee, the taste of chocolate, and a head like a coke), and jamming with some oldie tunes, just wave. If you even nod and pout a shallow grin, you’ll make my pages. Congrats. Now where’s me keys?

Look both ways on good days and bad.
Mind the gaps, but don’t let them live in your head.

 

Truthful End

In the end, my truth will bind me,
at that end, is when I’ll see
my unmasked face torn to tatters,
ain’t my truth what really matters?

For now, the lie is here with me,
he dwells within, filled with glee.
In symbiosis, we have confirmed,
I love the lie, he’s unconcerned.

Then he waits. The lie is clever.
He tells me that I’ll live forever,
a power he grants me over Truth.
Can’t you see? The lie is smooth.

For now, I provide the lie a home.
I hide the lie in every poem.
I wonder why. Is this the Truth?
I ponder lies, my poor excuse?

Then, one day I must cross over,
that is when I will discover
the lie has been a deceitful lover,
posing as my different drummer.

Death is light on another shore,
Truth has always loved me more.
The lie be gone, but he’s no ghost,
he’ll always find another host.

In the end, and since my youth
I’ve lived the lie but known the Truth –
at this parting there’s no dispute,
the lie has been, my personal truth.

My mask removed,
my face exposed,
my inner Truth has been disclosed:
both truth and lie were parts of me, but only one could set me free.

Bill Reynolds, 8/20/2017

Look both ways, to the lies and to the truth.
Mind the gaps, but there are many of both.

Ode to Rain: Epistle of Love

My love, my Rain.
I pine to feel your life-giving touch,
Your cool caressing embrace; ah, and this –
to hear those rippling and rapping sounds of your rhythmic voice.
I want those old feelings you once brought to me,
that I may again enjoy your aqueous presence. Indeed, to rejoice.

I miss familiar coolness, that softness you bring to the heat of the day,
as you contrast sky with clouds, and you paint the blue away,
I miss feeling peaceful and calm as my senses delight
when you gently fall over a long summer’s night –
I excite in anticipation of your first drop, with your sweet dripping touch;
shower me, Miss, in the pleasures of your cool moist mist,
no less than my heavenly reward, is when you’re ever-so saucy,
and you graze on my skin as it covers my body.

Please drip me with precip, wonderful Rain. My friend, my lover;
bring into my thoughts your kiss from above,
be in my dreams. Sing your sweet soaked song to me.
You, the essence of life, as you always will be,
preciously close, come here with me, this life is ours.
Bring me your gifts of awareness and pleasure,
of consciousness, gratitude, and love me forever.
Where are you Rain? I miss you too much!

Playfully poke me with your pluvio-pleasures.
Show me your ways with nature’s wet treasures.
Sprinkle your affection all over this heart you bless;
Taste me. I’ll feel you near. I yearn for your watery caress,
glide across my eyes and down on my face, go hide
under my clothes, cover my body as you slide.
Touch me, dear Rain, where no one else can.
Where are you now? Fall here on your man.

Sing me your songs; play me your drum!
Match to my heartbeat, your musical rhythm
and the welcome-home tapping of your wet little dance.
Tell me with distant rumblings, per chance
how you save the world, how you knew
the first life. You created all that is true.
Sing softly as you send water over me
as you finally wash my misery to sea.

From clouds you descend, mixing torrent with nature,
as I take into my body your mischievous essence.
Allow me a smile as I acknowledge your substance,
into my heart, I take your sensuous vapor.
Into you, I ply my being, stroking romance with your scent.
Cascade over me. Where are you falling?
My lovely, loving Rain? You are heaven-sent.
Plunge decadent raindrops to wash and to ease
my dry scorched body to ebb away my gloom.

With dew-moist feet, we dance into the night. We breeze
through those puddles of love that share our delights.
Happily we move with bushes and leaves of the trees.
We delightfully smile at all the night lights,
seeing your wondrous mysterious intrigue.
Invitingly, I see in the distant dark sky,
your distinct flickering lightning, drawing me nigh.
Come closer to me, be with me Rain, rain and rain.
Mix with these gentle breezes again.
My Love, My Rain…I miss you. Come, wash away this bane.

Bill Reynolds 8/10/2017

Look both ways for the rain, rain, to come and play.
We’ll find the sun another day.
Mind the dry gap and wear sunscreen.

Footnote: I really do miss the rain. I moved to the PNA (partly) because it rains often. We have now officially shattered the old days-without-rain record (51), now at 55 days with no rain, and counting. If I wanted this shit, I would have moved to freaking Arizona.

From The NeverEnding Story

A few weeks ago was the 33rd anniversary of the movie, The NeverEnding Story, being released to theaters. I wrote this little ditty to relate to the moral of the story, as I see it today.

Moonchild

The mantle of truth is a heavy coat of many colors,
it gives warmth and freedom, but not love, friends, or quiet.
I can wear it out for all see, or keep it secretly private,
hidden away from the flak and dissent of others.

During this never-ending search for the best,
I face many challenges, and risk the love of others.
Do I seek such love, or a truth not of any lovers?
Must Falkor guide me on my never-ending quest?

When it’s only a story, is it also a myth?
At the Magic Mirror Gate, what truth have I now?
What is it within me, that this story won’t allow?
Are love and truth the same, or is it the Oracle’s kiss?

I find the impossible hard to defend.
The nothing is within me, but I’ll take my stand
for the dream of truth to my last grain of sand.
No seeker would stop with this as the end.

We deny then accept, it’s hard to compile,
the path is a clear one for all who will stay,
it may not be possible, at least not today.
Make Fantasia all truth, son of Moonchild.

*Bill Reynolds 7/31/2017

On your never-ending story, look both ways. Mind the gaps, they’re not myths.

My favorite lines from the movie (and the youtube clip):

G’mork: Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.

Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?

G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.

Atreyu: What is the Nothing?

G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.