Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Waiting and Such

I wonder, at times, if mine is a destiny of being perpetually unsettled. At no time, it seems, can I relax in the arms of the word’s true definition.

I sit on this porch. It is warm, but pleasant enough. I am in the cradle of the gloam—my absolute favorite time of day. The sky is battleship grey with hints of cobalt and lavender. The nightsounds show themselves early and it is grand—the feel of a hidden lake and rolling hills. There is a distant train whistle. And then it is gone. The music slides beneath my front door, dances to its own delicious beat at the legs of my chair. The house itself is quiet in there. My son is with his mother and the night is my own. I have a strong drink, a nice cigar, a newly-arrived New Yorker, a copy of Buk’s Factotum I am revisiting, a pen, a notebook. I’ve got it all. And yet, my Goddamn shoulders are wrenched up to my Goddamn ears. I am coiled as tight as a pair of size 32 blue jeans. And I feel like the ass that is about to bust those seams.

By most accounts, I am a lucky man. Though not completely devoid of the curse, I am not nearly inclined to sit around and wallow in self-pity as I was in my younger days. I am observant and am thus extremely thankful for what I have.

I spent years running hard—hitting the bars, meeting women, driving all night aimed at no real destination. I was lucky through all of it. And truth be told, I still have a bit of that in my blood, the yearning and the luck. I suppose it is not something of which you ever completely rid yourself. Nor would I wish to. But those days are largely behind me. I am physically settled. Nestled in a city I fell in love with seven years ago. I have the honor of watching her evolve and grow around me. She is an urban miracle, with new structures popping up daily; and still I have deer and fox and raccoons roaming the small lot on which I live. It is a delightful and inexplicable contradiction of nature that I embrace.

But emotionally I am unsettled as the day I graduated high school. And then college. It seems a betrayal to what my years would dictate. And I do not understand.

I’ve been told “your 40’s are when you truly find yourself.” That’s great. Especially, since I rapidly approach them. But if “the 50’s are the new 40’s,” as I have also been told, then Jesus Christ, what next? When do I find my way?

In good time, I suppose. In good time.

In the meantime, I’ll strive to enjoy the night. The sights. The sounds. The freedom. The drinks and gratifying cigars. The music.

The waiting.

And really, it’s all good.

It really is…It really is…It really is…

Friday, July 21, 2006

What the Mind Does in the Heat and Night

It is a fucking sauna on my front porch. But a cigar, drink, and New Yorker make it enjoyable. It is like Augusta, GA out here. Sometimes the feel of home is like the feel of home.

My thoughts are scattered more so than usual tonight. My hand-crafted soundtrack slides perfectly too loud through the front door—Van Morrison, Jack Johnson, Lyle Lovett, and a double dose of Tom Waits. I will see Tom in Louisville in about two weeks and I am as excited as a schoolgirl.

My mind is back to running rabbits, returning me to my surreal sense of normalcy. I am here, there, and back again… My only nephew was in a horrific car wreck last week and by the Grace of someone’s God, he escaped largely unscathed. I cannot quite process it yet without filling with emotion. The boy (actually a man), is my sister’s Emerson. And because I am close to my sister, I have absorbed some of her horror and made it my own. What if my son had such a close call? My being shuts down at the obscene possibility.

And I am traversing this mapless terrain of thought and find myself thinking about Lost in Translation. And how utterly wonderful that film is. How Tokyo is overload to the senses. How it is neon enlightenment—at once terrifying and calming. How I once paid $9 for a can of Coors there. How I heard Don McLean’s American Pie six times in a row in a bar beneath the city. How one way I will be able to write about my time in Tokyo.

I’m thinking of my friends, K & P. That they will have a new baby boy before July is done. How exciting and scary a new baby is. And how lucky that baby is about to be.

I’m thinking about my ramshackle, neglected house and my limping Jeep.

I’m thinking about the instability of my job.

And I’m thinking of driving to Evansville this weekend. Of swimming and sunning and fishing. Of making sure my sister’s son is really okay.

I marvel at how good I am at being alone. How much I enjoy it. How I prefer it. How liberating it is. And how odd that might seem to the casual observer.

I’m thinking—inexplicably—of Holden Caulfield. His inability to progress. His eerily understandable curse of being tethered to all things static. My unattractive ability to relate.

I smile at having introduced a learned friend to E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime. And how Doctorow’s writing is a revelation.

I’m thinking of shooting stars and where they go when they are finished.

I’m thinking of people I may have hurt to this point—and whether I am as innocent in that as I believe myself to be.

I’m thinking about my friend at Emory who has leukemia and a boy the same age as my own.

I’m thinking about the booze and cigar runs I need to make tomorrow and which credit cards are not maxed out.

I’m thinking about the too young girl I saw at work today with bad posture and brown eyes the size of saucers. How her eyes were vacant and all-knowing.

And I’m thinking of Emerson at his mother’s tonight. About whether he will call in tears at 3:30a, homesick and ready to come home as he has done the past two times.

I’m thinking it is troublesome to thrive on (and yearn for) this solitude, this aloneness and yet love women as I do. I want them and I want to be as far from them as possible. And I realize this is hardly new or unique. But the contradiction fascinates me.

I’m thinking I should be on the beach in Naples, Florida and fishing in Islamorada and drinking in Key West.

And I wonder if the pressure in my chest is anxiety or a heart ready to explode. Are the ocular migraines the result of having seen too much or a precursor to stroke? Is hypochondriasis quantifiable?

So much thinking. Too many questions.

And so the drinks are winding down. The second cigar is a memory. And the rabbits are slowing. It’s time to turn off my mind for the night and look for sleep.

If only I could find the fucking remote.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Thematics, Angst, & Non Rhyme

When I was trying to write poetry, I rarely created or reflected issues of substance. I found myself writing what I liked to read. The vast majority of my poems were mundane snapshots or free verse vignettes. In this respect they were, at best, considered amateurish. A valid criticism, I think. But as I have always appreciated ambiguity, open-endedness, and simplicity, my poetry succeeded in that it accomplished what was intended—which, largely, was nothing in particular. Occasionally, I would toy with internal rhyme or a rhyme scheme noticeable to no one but me. Often the scheme would (unintentionally) end up as a variation of iambic pentameter—it was merely the way the words came out.

I appreciated the themes that occasionally showed themselves in much the way I appreciate Edward Hopper’s work. Fret not, my arrogance does not run deep enough to compare my word to Hopper’s stroke. I speak only of thematic aspirations. See, Hopper conveyed aloneness, loneliness, silent angst, and pensiveness as it had never before been conveyed. My goal (if indeed I had one) was to do something similar, with as few words as possible. Just as he had done with a sparse and simple style.

These words happened a couple weeks ago. Even with the long break, I find I haven’t matured a whit in the ways of verse. But I’m okay with that. It feels good to have even had the urge.

First Poem

The night is neither elegant
nor elegiac.
Perhaps salacious. The moon
purrs light
like whispers in a closet.
My heartbeat is a murmur,
a stutter.
A sigh my only company.
The telephone
does not ring. But if it did,
the silence
on the other end would be

What does it mean? Oh, nothing really. A snapshot of an evening. Maybe something to make me begin again.

It certainly isn’t my Nighthawks. But, truly, what could be?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mothership BBQ: A Glowing Review

It’s wonderful to see that hard work, perseverance, and a touch of decency can still occasionally pay off. Jim “Nashville Knucklehead” Reams has busted his ass to bring Nashville the best Goddamn BBQ around. His joint, Mothership BBQ, is ready to take off in the biggest of ways. Kay West of the Nashville Scene seems to agree with what local (and non-local) bloggers have been talking about for over a month now.

Read her glowing review right here. Then stop by Jim’s site and offer a slap on the back. Tell him Ryan sent you.

Best BBQ I’ve ever had. Truthfully.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Distant X's & O's, Baby! Posted by Picasa
Do Rag Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Augusta June 2006 Posted by Picasa