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You are a diagnostic nuclear radiologist and a writer of fiction and poetry. From a practical point of view, how do you make it all happen while always producing top quality work?
I have streamlined my life to free up time for the important things and cut out everything that isn’t important.
Photo: courtesy of the artist
The fourth little pig built his house of books
and when the wolf
whose name was Grief
huffed and puffed and tried to blow that house down,
the covers of the sloping roof
flew back like so many shingles
on so many hinges.
The pages ruffled noisily,
but that house
(built of books born in a hotter kiln than any brick)
The wolf Grief clambered up
to inspect this page-thatched roof,
and once he got up there he fell
He worked his way around the walls,
sliding out one book-brick at a time
(the loveliest poetry’s
frequently written by absolute pigs)
until the big bad
wolf became the big bad
pacing the lawn,
bifocals on his snout,
a librarian with teeth
snarling away whole packs
of wolves named Grief.
To Blackfoot, Sanskrit, Cherokee, and Latin
(languages that, dead, survive)
you have to listen in suspense
order of because the words variable is.
This disorder wasn’t always foreign.
English stayed flexible, lexically game
until the railroads standardized the time.
Before the daily dilly-dally went all clockstep,
people had the freedom
to wait for sentences to finish.
Therefore were they with their inversions
so generous. As in,
‘There but for the grace of God go’
(wait for it)
‘I’: The subject following
the verb, the doer following
the doing: passive even
in the act of going, that is, passing,
passing, past…. It makes more sense
when you remember that their sense
of time was mostly misted-over
echoes over shifty hills of church bells
that might or might not be (no way to tell)
the death knell of the very friar
whose job it was at the top of the hour
to pull the rope. As late
as way back when, the literacy rate
for clocks was just below the literacy rate
for books, at negative
something percent. Young parents
in the past, you’ll notice,
are always tucking into coffins
babies. What we would call a midlife crisis
used to be that ripeness at the end of life
when Gabriel appeared and told you to recite.
The order of events just shambled past
Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition
even though that phrase was still
a couple world wars in the future then.
Which one of us first person singulars
could recognize that endlessly preponed,
suffering from its chronic time disorder?
When they used to sweat the future
they sweated it without deodorant,
so hold your breath and thank your lucky hours
we have no place now in their grammar.
They serve their sentences without us,
forever present in the prison tense.
Be patient, friend. We, too, will do our time.
I was brought up by a woman
Hard like an industrial diamond,
Flawed and carbonado,
Shot right through with shadow,
Her heart the hard-willed drill bit
She cored the rocks before us with.
Never a showy Koh-i-Noor,
She had it in her to endure,
A diamond coarse and fierce and dark
With loverough hands, with hands that marked
The son she sanded down with words
Into a man not half as hard as her.
No one can gem-cut what was born to cut.
Blades and saws are where they’re set,
These stones that cut the hardest things
Like the pride of a boy of seventeen.
I cut this circle in the glass between.
I sing her name and set her in this ring.