Food for thought. When you blog regularly, or profess, or editorialize, or report, or essay, it is hard to turn off the tap, the flow of thoughts to words that organize themselves like little labor unions, and keep you on the straight and narrow. A picture like the one above, for example, of two Christmas presents, always presents itself as an opportunity to interpret.
It’s very hard to shut off the tap. If you write regularly, you feel the words constantly mobilizing, ready to fight against any injustice you take up as a cause, or any singular item of beauty or relevance or newsworthiness. This is good work and important.
But sometimes the tap has to shut itself off. That’s scary. Because there’s so much to say. And then you have a group of picketers ready to strike.
That’s when there’s everything and nothing to say.
At year’s end, when bloggers and reporters sum up the comings and goings of whatever it is they’ve chronicled coming and going, blogging should be easy. The year-end posts make one feel closure on the year’s work and it provides readers with sense of time passing with progress. Accomplishment. Quantifiable successes. An onward march. How did the “to do” list fare? The resolutions? How many jars did you put up, what was your best magic with a cut of beef? How many tomatoes were picked, and how many tomato pickers suffered?
What a year for the organized march. I want to sever myself from it, frankly. In times of sadness and grief, there just aren’t enough words. For the first time in a long time, I don’t want to write.
So to my labor union of words, I say let’s approach 2011 and its sadnesses in a different way. I’m going to be on the side of those who resist the listmaking and cataloguing of injustices for a while. Instead of trying to accomplish even more, I aim to resist and regroup. Dare I say it? I plan to do less this year. Less enumerating of who killed the pork chops and more dreaming of peaches and penumbras. Not sure how and not sure where it will lead, but I’m willing to walk all night through the solitary streets. Send in the scabs!
This post has been brought to you by the letters F and U, the number 2011, and
A Supermarket in California
by Allen Ginsberg
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking
at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at
night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
–and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?
What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you,
and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy
tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour.
Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade
to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automo-
biles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America
did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a
smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of