"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

He Remained a Gentleman to the End

I have tried to keep the darkness I am experiencing right now from becoming too raw and broken in my posts here and on Facebook and the variety of other places I write these days. It is difficult, as the times I write most freely about anything are ironically the times when I am struggling. I think it is my way of coping, some way of letting the pain find a window to escape through.

So tonight, I was searching through a poetry site I had never been to before. I love to search and find poetry that mirrors my journey or pain, and I am often astonished at how someone else's words seem to capture the struggle in my heart and mind. I came upon the following piece:

Drawing from Life

Reginald Shepherd

Look: I am building absence
out of this room's air, I'm reading suppositions into
summer's script snarled on a varnished floor.
It looks like a man. That knot's his hand
waving good-bye, that stippled stripe of grain's
the stacked-up vertebrae of his turned back.
Small birds (sparrows or finches, or perhaps)
are cluttering the trees with blackened ornaments (burning
in the remnant light of August eight o'clock), and noises
I can't hear. Chirring there, chittering. The window's closed.

I am assembling a lack of sound
in this locked box, and dotting all the i's
these floating motes present (my composition), I am not lonely
for the palpable world (midges I dap hands for
and kill), shivering into darkness underwater outside glass:
what's left of light sinking from zero down to less,
cobalt down to zaffer, deeper to purple-black
where divers drown. The swimming landscape's
all mistake (one world that shuts air into
my submerged terrarium), and I am luck.

I was so taken with this piece, the flowing prose, the tangle of words I read and think I could never put together... I wanted to find more by this poet. I searched through the site and Google and found a few other beautiful pieces, and was so excited to be discovering a talent I didn't know about, and looking forward to reading more of his work as he wrote more to add to his already extensive library.

Then, I saw a link for his blog. I was so happy, as I looked forward to reading his thoughts on the craft, as well as just getting to know him better. I clicked on the link for his blog, and began to read the most recent entry. I literally gasped a little out loud.

I suppose I should have publicized these a bit earlier, but I don't always have it completely together lately. In any case, there have been a number of publications of Reginald's poetry and essays since his death last fall.

Since his death last fall. How? Why? As I read more, I found that the writer of the posts was Reginald's partner and love, Robert Philen. Reading Robert's entries, one can almost see him struggling with every word. It seems hard for him to write the word death. His pain is real. Reginald died after a battle with cancer. He was only six years older than I am now.

The blog contains more of Reginald's work, and he was astonishingly talented. I still marvel at his words and the way he turns an overflow of descriptives into something so simple and striking. Just beautiful. As I read more of his blog tonight, it was so sad to see his last entry, detailing his current hospital stay, and then two weeks later, a post from Robert about his death.

What a loss to not know years more of his work. But what a find tonight to be discovering him. I am off to read more. I realized that I can still go and learn about his thoughts on writing, and just learn more about him as a person. He has two years of blog entries left behind as a gift.

The title of this post is a quote from a nurse who cared for Reginald near the end of his battle with cancer. I thought it was such a beautiful thing to say.

I leave you with one more piece of his work, and below it, the link to his blog.


For Robert Philen

You are like me, you will die too, but not today:
you, incommensurate, therefore the hours shine:
if I say to you “To you I say,” you have not been
set to music, or broadcast live on the ghost
radio, may never be an oil painting or
Old Master’s charcoal sketch:
you area concordance of person, number, voice,
and place, strawberries spread through your name
as if it were budding shrubs, how you remind me
of some spring, the waters as cool and clear
(late rain clings to your leaves, shaken by light wind),
which is where you occur in grassy moonlight:
and you are a lily, an aster, white trilliumor viburnum, by all rights mine, white star
in the meadow sky, the snow still arriving
from its earthwards journeys, here where there is
no snow (I dreamed the snow was you,when there was snow), you are my right,
have come to be my night (your body takes on
the dimensions of sleep, the shape of sleep
becomes you): and you fall from the sky
with several flowers, words spill from your mouth
in waves, your lips taste like the sea, salt-sweet (trees
and seas have flown away, I call it
loving you): home is nowhere, therefore you,
a kind of dwell and welcome, song after all,
and free of any eden we can name

To visit Reginald's blog, click here.


Di at Legacy4Life July 29, 2009 at 5:39 PM  

Hi Kim

Came across your blog because of the Blog of Notes award. I love your writing and your honesty which makes you vunerable but connects with people in a way that is not commonplace.

Anonymous,  July 31, 2009 at 9:46 AM  


a's anonymous August 2, 2009 at 6:39 AM  

i'm interested in starting a group blog with a select few that covers literature, news,and other miscellaneous information.
i'm looking for writers to recruit that can write particularly well.
if you so happen to be interested yourself drop me a line and i can provide you with more information.


p.s. i want this to be more than an online newspaper, i want people with something to say, no censorship. also, if you know any other writers interested in a post feel free to send them my way.
thank you

chandro_neev August 27, 2009 at 1:35 PM  

thanks kim for sharing this link.....the best part about the narrative was that it touched my heart......many such things happen,yet the poignancy of description gives an entire new light to the happening,it makes even the non enlightened or the disinterested cry......breaking the barriers of nationality,race,creed,colour,orientation.....
do keep up the good work!!!


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