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 – 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.

Poetry: A Strain of Madness

The pathetic bitch just lay before my eyes,
we each blamed the other for her horrible lines.
I had once dreamed of her as a flawless beauty,
but her loveliness was soon all too fleeting.
Everything about her soon disgusted me.

She beamed as I hacked away and mutilated her.
Such beatings were horrible, she no longer was fair,
not lovely as once I’d imagined. She was my obsession,
she had to be better, no – I demanded perfection.
I swore at her, insulted her, I’d not let her rest.

Her excruciating pain was caused by my emasculation,
as I twisted her limbs, she bled and cried out my damnation.
I never shed tears. I was her god, her creator; I owned her.
Angered I was, by what she’d become in my hands.
No longer did she sing her sweet angelic song.

Her nightmare was my blind fury. As her cruel and ruthless master,
I swore obscenities and pointed out her flaws; her heart was shattered.
I pondered her shredding – me killing her. Where could I hide?
Should I kill us both? Maybe that was it; murder-suicide.
Thus ending our miserable suffering, both would just die.

Without me, she would not exist. Mutilation continued;
I hacked off pieces, yet that suffering twaddle endured.
I attached new members, only to rip them away as crap;
I ignored her cries for mercy as I tossed her limbs as scrap,
replacing them with her rip-torn skin; still oozing blood.

Was her beauty hidden or gone? I ripped at her face.
She was mine to mold, to satiate my perverted desires.
Everything, from her disfigured hair flowing down
to her awkward stumbling feet, was to gratify me.
Her suffering would end with my metered pleasure.

I deemed us inhuman. A mere dullard of life, all that she was.
Her reasons for existing were meeting my ruthless demands.
She failed. Each day I emptied myself into her, more beatings.
Her tolerance for my impatience stroked her pleasurable feelings,
her loving and caring endurance infuriated me all the more.

I was disgusted. All that time. All the work. All our suffering.
Yet, lain before me that pathetic little twat blamed me.
Exhausted, I thought this would be the end for us both.
Barely breathing, her heart murmuring along with mine,
our time together had neared its end, soon it was done.

One final scream! And then; calmly I stared, feeling a bit proud.
My anguish gone, I muttered the sounds of her words aloud
just as she set them before me. Slowly, she began to change.
That poisonous little worm became my lovely butterfly.
She smiled at me. Then she pouted, both sensuous and shy.

We reached out to each other one final time.
Soon, she would be with eternity, but somehow still mine.
I wept as my pleasure mixed with regret and my sorrow.
After setting her release for after sunrise, tomorrow,
I abandoned my poor little poem to whatever might follow.

Bill Reynolds, 9/4/2017

Know the gaps and mind them well. Look both ways, or deal with hell

But he who, having no touch of the Muses’ madness in his soul, comes to the door and thinks that he will get into the temple of art – he, I say, and his poetry are not admitted; the sane man disappears and is nowhere when he enters into rivalry with the madman. ~ Plato, Phaedrus

Hence poetry implies either a happy gift of nature or a strain of madness. Aristotle, Poetics

Love the art, poor as it may be, which thou hast learned, and be content with it, making thyself neither the master nor the servant of any man. ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Four

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.

Am I Too Old?

I see my reality very differently

Am I too old?

How old is old enough?
am I too old to feel young?
am I too old to run and hide?
am I too old to care?

How old is old enough?
am I too old to want to know?
am I too old to love someone?
am I too old to care?

How old is old enough?
am I too old to feel you near?
am I too old to call you babe?
am I too old to care?

How old is old enough?
am I too old to dance with you?
am I too old to share your passion?
am I too old to care?

I am not yet old enough,
so dance me to end of time.
Still I see the fairies dance,
for your love is always mine.

by bill reynolds 7/5/2017

To live long and prosper, look both ways and mind the gaps.

Forever Young!

a prayer

***

O Sweet Zepher

O sweet pacific Zepher of pleasure,
overcome and make everything better.
Thru my heart send cleansing measures;
touch my face, unsettle my hair, water my eyes;
refresh all things as you pass.

Bring rain to silence my mournful cries.
Wash my body, brush my thighs,
blow clear my eyes that my mind might see,
this imprisoned heart now set free.

Take away dirt and dinge from the air.
Sweep foul poisons drifting there
left by souls seeming not to care.
Send your sweeping wind of rebirth
into the vile sky polluted by human greed,
now cleaned by your blessing of me in need.

With your breath of god, remove this stillness
that saps life from creatures on earth we crave.
Replace placid with salty moist freshness.

Revive all of me with your ocean scent,
sooth my yearning for pleasures spent,
revive my fondness for life on earth.
Raise my desire for nature’s worth.
Bring to me your refreshing pleasure
into my dead soul, sweet pacific Zephyr.

by Bill Reynolds 6/21/2017

***

Let the sweet breeze of a zephyr touch you. Face the wind, then turn and enjoy life.
Feel the air as you look both ways and mind the gaps.