We Are Many

It’s on, folks: I’m putting together most everything I’ve written together. Not that the majority of it is great or sparkling or timeless or any of that – but there’s enough of it that it should be together, and if I’m the only person that ever lays eyes on it, so be it.

One thing that struck me, right off the bat, is how much poetry there was. I’ve never thought of myself as a poet; I do call myself a writer, though, and a writer should feel comfortable writing in different styles.

Right?

Anyway, like much of my writing, it’s not memorable; some of it is downright cringe-inducing. I’m not going to punish either of us by printing it, but it’s there, and if I ever get too full of myself, I’ll look at it and hopefully give my ego a swift kick in the ass.

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Why do I write? Why have I been writing more than half my life?

Easy: it’s one of the few releases I allow myself. I live alone, with only my cat (Buck) for company. I, essentially, work by myself. I don’t have a lot of friends (do I have any friends? That’s a question for another time).

Writing is where I can let it all go, and poetry…well, poetry is where I get raw. I mean, really raw. Sometimes I let it go in my short stories, sometimes in my essays – but always, always in my poems.

My favorite poet is Pablo Neruda. If you haven’t read his stuff, you need to get on that now. Neruda’s stuff is amazing. Some folks don’t think much of it; I don’t think much of these folks. You’re, of course, entitled to your opinion

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I’m a busy man this summer, with work. This is my personal website, I’m not going to discuss work here. I’ve set aside three projects this summer:

  • Infinite Summer (you already know about this one);
  • Compiling my short stories, maybe my essays;
  • Riffing on Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems & a Song of Despair.

The last is the toughest, by far. Twenty Love Poems is a masterpiece, a monument. I’m feeling inspired, and…

What the hell. It’s not like anyone will ever see the product. I might sling the poems up in here, if I don’t feel too embarrassed. But what the hell – nothing ventured, nothing gained. If anything, it becomes an interesting brain game.

To give you an idea of why I love me some Neruda, here’s his poem, “We Are Many”.

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We Are Many

Of the many men whom I am, whom we are,
I cannot settle on a single one.
They are lost to me under the cover of clothing
They have departed for another city.

When everything seems to be set
to show me off as a man of intelligence,
the fool I keep concealed on my person
takes over my talk and occupies my mouth.

On other occasions, I am dozing in the midst
of people of some distinction,
and when I summon my courageous self,
a coward completely unknown to me
swaddles my poor skeleton
in a thousand tiny reservations.

When a stately home bursts into flames,
instead of the fireman I summon,
an arsonist bursts on the scene,
and he is I. There is nothing I can do.
What must I do to distinguish myself?
How can I put myself together?

All the books I read
lionize dazzling hero figures,
brimming with self-assurance.
I die with envy of them;
and, in films where bullets fly on the wind,
I am left in envy of the cowboys,
left admiring even the horses.

But when I call upon my DASHING BEING,
out comes the same OLD LAZY SELF,
and so I never know just WHO I AM,
nor how many I am, nor WHO WE WILL BE BEING.
I would like to be able to touch a bell
and call up my real self, the truly me,
because if I really need my proper self,
I must not allow myself to disappear.

While I am writing, I am far away;
and when I come back, I have already left.
I should like to see if the same thing happens
to other people as it does to me,
to see if as many people are as I am,
and if they seem the same way to themselves.
When this problem has been thoroughly explored,
I am going to school myself so well in things
that, when I try to explain my problems,
I shall speak, not of self, but of geography.

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