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.

 

My Last Dream: Your Final Kiss

Lay your kiss upon my lips,
this parting now so ends our mix,
this love of ours death has eclipsed.
You’re not wrong, of us to deem
that our days were but a dream;
‘tis not our lust yet flown away,
so little time we’re here to stay,
in this night, the last we share,
we end this passion that we bear.
Did it happen as it so seemed?
Did it happen as in my dreams?
Was it true, now comes to this?
Press your love upon my lips.

I stand alone before you now,
into your care, my final vow –
my life I offer to your hand
eternal love’s last grains of sand,
slipping slowly where you stand.
Weep not for us, lost to the deep,
from your breast let love not seep.
It was a dream, and as we dreamed
our heart’s desire was as it seemed.
Before I die, my one last wish,
Upon my lips – your final kiss.

Bill Reynolds 7/7/2017

Inspired by Poe’s A Dream Within a Dream…Listen to it while reading my poem again. You’ll see…

Look both ways and mind the gaps, but remember to live.

My Search for Order

 

Before this life, something of me
spun with the chaos of an endless sea.

No life had I, and yet I did see
how I craved a cosmos of order and peace.

A systematic universe was for me.

Born later with life, a fully formed man,
I searched in a world, both tranquil and bland.
I longed for a love, with balance and peace
and the glory of a calm, with the comfort of ease.

In my life, wanted desires well-nourished.
But then, what is life? Who am I
in this search to be here and why?

As I searched my world for temporal peace.
Two vicious conflicts raged within me:
One as I sleep,
I war with a universe in chaos;
The other awake,
is my war with myself  –  in combat,
I am, with my own human consciousness.

That old inner universe yearns on and on.
Then shall I die. Just then,
no longer alive, but I’m swirling within
part of the universe in chaos again.

My Search for Order by Bill Reynolds 6/12/2017

Look both ways and mind the gaps, but chaos owns the universe.

prisoner

I have not sinned
against a god nor man
nor woman
harmed no beast
—cared for Mother

why do I suffer
these sins of others
the revenge of Man
sins against me
—why am I prisoner here

admit they say and
confess – to what
I did no wrong
I harmed no one
—and yet I’m here

yet I am punished
forced – I sit alone, told to
feel some shame and
remorse and
—guilt for my breath

my dignity
my humanity
they took all from me and
I suffer – I do – I am alone in
—my pain without sympathy

why am I punished
made less than
human – no son of god
son of man
—fuck it all – fuck them all

try harder they say
love this god they pray
why must I see their way
It’s their way I’ll suffer
—the goodness of Death

prisoner by bill reynolds. 5/31/17

Look around. Mind what you see.

U – Universal Pain and Suffering (NaPoWriMo #25)

I don’t think there is a rule, but I’ve read that poems should be about specific things. The universe isn’t specific. So how do I write about it and be specific? I decided to key on a quote from Aristotle: “The universe exists for, and shines through, the particular.” My attempt was to twist that concept into living in the present.

 

***

Suffering Universal
By Bill Reynolds

What means the vast universe?
From the largest to the smallest,
It’s the every and the all, interspersed.
There’s more, and we’re on the call list.

Where thoughts drift among the unknowable
It’s all there. Is our significance so minute?
Dare we, as we might; is it so uncontrollable?
Or shall we focus on the more acute?

A far-off star explodes. Planets vanish.
Did you hear it? Did you see it?
Stars in the sky, but maybe not.
We see the light. Is it still a vantage?

Death. Suffering. Pain. Sadness.
Broken bodies. Broken hearts.
Do you hear them? Do you see them?
It’s all there. Should we care?

Are my feet on earth? Can my senses touch reality?
The universe is there, but also here.
Not for its own sake, but for each of us.
Let’s focus on the small, while aware of it all.

I engage with my personal
Real world life as it truly can be.
Let me be in the universal here and now.

Until more of the changes happen,
Until the stars no longer shine,
Until we know it all,
Until we hear the universe breathe.

***

Right here; right now, bloom where you’re planted.
But, look both ways and mind the gaps.

*

T – Tercet: In Real Time (NoPoWriMo #24)

The tercet is a poetic stanza of three lines with a rhyme. While there is no specific rhyme scheme necessary and some even venture into free verse, I prefer to not to dig in unplowed turf. However, I did play with this and came up with rhyming lines one and two in each stanza, and using mid and end line rhymes in line three: aab2, bbc2, etc.

***

In Real Time
By Bill Reynolds

Not to be seen, heard, or specifically smelt.
We know it’s there, cuz experiences felt,
No gods can stop it, no power to quit.

Some sew it wisely, while others just wait.
The outcome’s the same, we share the same fate.
Fight back as we may; that is only delay.

Wind we can feel, the rain we may taste.
But the passage of time, we have little to waste.
Let’s consider the past; make choices that last.

Perpetually running, it passes in silence;
Everything changes, nothing is timeless.
Reality speaks loudly, but time passes proudly.

***

Thinking of time, be looking both ways.
While minding the gaps, watch only today’s.