Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Little Provocation, Please!

It was after a recent, lengthy “dry spell”, that I came to a certain conclusion regarding my storytelling & poetry.
I keep a daily journal, wherein I record all my fears, complaints, rants, and the occaisional piece of writing or tidbit of poetry that is worth transcribing into my computer later on. I realized that I hadn’t written anything of any merit whatsoever for the duration of an entire 200 page notebook, named Journal #34. It was poetry-free, containing nothing but boring trivia, and mind-numbing, neurotic drivel. “What was wrong?”, I asked myself.
A few feeble attempts to consciously “force” myself to come up with some poetic lines ended in dismal failure.
Then, a week or so later, I found myself wandering through a hallway and I saw a sign on a doorway that read: “Bankruptcy Counselling”. This was what I was looking for. I sat down in a large room with rows of tables and a stack of forms at the front desk. About a dozen or so dejected-looking souls were hunched over and attempting to fill out these forms. I took a form for myself and set about trying to fill it out. After awhile a lawyer (I think he was a lawyer) walked into the room and proceeded to make a rather lengthy speech about the pros & cons of declaring bankruptcy.
After about twenty minutes I started to glaze over and tune out. He went on and on and I began to form the opinion that I would not choose to declare bankruptcy after all: It was, like most things, just too damn complicated, and also possibly too much of a risk. I was already in deep trouble and who knew what additional trouble I might get myself into? Now, I was here to try and get free counselling and I was wondering if I would be eligible. I had been receiving unemployment benefits for a long time and they were due to run out very soon. He finally finished his speech and we all went back to filling out the forms. It was about then that I noticed that the air-conditioner was blowing toxic fumes into the room. Now I happen to have a chemical sensitivity condition. Even a small amount of paint fumes, or solvents, or cleaning fluids, de-greasers, etc. will make me dizzy and disoriented and quite ill in a very short time. It wasn’t terribly toxic, but it was enough to slowly make me ill. I noticed that I had now been in this room for 2 1/2 hours, and I was starting to feel poisoned. I tried to pull my attention away from this disgusting and unfortunate situation, and to apply myself to the task of completing the form. I came to a series of questions, one of which asked me if I owned any furniture and if so, what was it worth? I answered that all my furniture had always come straight off the street, going way back to the time of my very first apartment back in 1972. I recall trying to be a hippie (or what I imagined a hippie to be) and living as marginally as possible, without having to toil at a full-time job if at all possible. My attempt to be a successful hippie was a complete failure however. I was able to memorize a few slogans such as, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”, but this really didn’t help me very much, and I was never able to meet one of those sexy, hippie women that were seemingly everywhere in those days. But I digress! I remember I had dragged home a big, wooden spool about four feet in diameter that was once used to hold heavy BX-cable. It made a pretty nice “coffee table”, despite the patches of grease that would seep through whatever paint I would try to cover it with. And, of course, a series of dilapidated and rickety chairs, and a stool that was missing most, if not all, of it’s cross-braces. And I still have the splintery, old, round bar table that I had hauled in off the sidewalk one day about 25 years ago. I often wonder how many frosty mugs of brew were hoisted over the top of this workhorse of a table. I had never bought a piece of furniture in my life, and didn’t ever expect to! What did they think, I had Danish-Modern, or something? Huh! So I wrote down: “Everything came from the street!”, hoping to keep them off my back. Another question a few lines down caught my attention: “Do you own a pet, and if so, how much do you think you could sell it for?” I felt something crack, deep inside. I paused and put down my pen. I picked it right back up and wrote: “I will kill any son-of-a-bitch dumb enough to try and take my cat away from me! — Does that answer your question?”. I realized that I didn’t care anymore and I took out my journal and wrote furiously for about ten pages. Ten pages of real raw stuff! Good stuff! Useable stuff! Some of my best lines ever! (Later that evening I distilled some of it into a poem entitled: “Great Vats of Boiling Blubber and Churning Contention”, a piece that I was very satisfied with.)
My name was finally called and I was shepherded into another room. A young volunteer lawyer, who looked to be in his early twenties asked me a long series of questions about my financial status. When it was over he huddled with one of his superiors, and then informed me that I made too much money to qualify for free bankruptcy counseling. I protested that I was only making $406.00 a week, and even that would be coming to an end in a few weeks. He told me that I was making “too much money” to qualify for free counselling.
He told me that I could still declare bankruptcy, but that it would cost me $1,500.00 to hire a lawyer, and another $200 for filing fees, and another $150.00 for I forget what. So I realized that I didn’t have enough money to file for bankruptcy! I didn’t care in the least at this point because I was still crazed and intoxicated by the ten pages of raw verbiage that I had cranked out. I headed out into the street, and the realization hit me: I needed to be provoked in order to jump-start my creative process! Revelations!
I then realized that all of my useable poetry and stories were written under extreme conditions of homelessness, poisonings, harrassments, and various forms of attack, both psychic and physical! Yes! Underground poems conjured up by an underground american! Poems dark and delirious!
Then, the euphoria slowly faded away over the next few days, and I hit another long, unproductive stretch. That is, until today! Today, when I attempted to set up my very first blog-page! After about 4 hours of rejected user names and endlessly-typed and re-typed passwords and indecipherable instructions and complete failure, I again felt that familiar “crack”, deep in my head, and I immediately and spontaneously composed seven new, short poems under the following titles:

Sulphuric Death\Chant
Dire Jottings: Numbers and Addresses of the Wrong People
The Book of Shouted Instructions
Great Excuses of Fulton Street
The Great Catalog of Gray Areas
Bromides For an Overcast Late-Morning in a Remote Suburb of Absentia
Inscriptions in an Inappropriate Font

A little provocation, please ...

1 comment:

ebinezer said...

Do you know what is sulfuric death. I too don't know it. The good think I like was the plan of maintaining a daily journal where we can learn ourselves by revising the previous hours we spend in a bad way. Then on we can improve where its has to be.

ebinezer
http://www.shepelskylaw.com