Want To Be

If there is one person I would like to be writing like, it's Donald Hall. I suppose I am writing like him, but I want to be doing it as well, with as much vigor, and such that it was more than enough to keep my family and I afloat. I just finished A Carnival Of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety and it was good, good, good. (Though I revere Ann Patchett, I disagree with her assessment on the back cover that it is one of a very few perfect books. The book is good, Ann, but it is not perfect and is equaled by your own This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage.) I should say that I want to be able to write prose the way Hall did, the way E. B. White did, the way David Sedaris, Anne Lamott, Annie Dillard, Kurt Vonnegut, George Saunders, and Mary Karr all do. I've never been big for Hall's poetry, mostly I think because I don't understand.

For poetry, I'll take David Shumate who wrote this most beautiful of things called "The Long Road":

It’s one of those highways you come across late at night. No signs. No arrows. Just a road running north and south. You pause. You look one way. Then the other. Nothing. Only the hum of the engine, the chirping of crickets confirm you are here. You can’t remember where you’ve been. Where you are going. If it weren’t for the lines drawn through the middle, you’d think you were drifting down a river. Or stumbling upon a path through the sky. Remember, it is a moonless night. You are tired. Hungry. No one to talk to. Afraid that what you were thinking might have come true. You look to your left again. Perhaps you see a mountain. An ocean. A lover you wish you hadn’t lost. Spirits that seem so familiar, drifting in from the dark. You wait in that silence. It may be years before it is safe to proceed.

Perhaps it helps that Shumate writes prose poetry, which ought to be a bastard child but comes out instead as a an otherworldly thing, perhaps angelic.

If I were to want to be a different poet it would be Mark Strand in "Man And Camel":

On the eve of my fortieth birthday I sat on the porch having a smoke when out of the blue a man and a camel happened by. Neither uttered a sound at first, but as they drifted up the street and out of town the two of them began to sing. Yet what they sang is still a mystery to me— the words were indistinct and the tune too ornamental to recall. Into the desert they went and as they went their voices rose as one above the sifting sound of windblown sand. The wonder of their singing, its elusive blend of man and camel, seemed an ideal image for all uncommon couples. Was this the night that I had waited for so long? I wanted to believe it was, but just as they were vanishing, the man and camel ceased to sing, and galloped back to town. They stood before my porch, staring up at me with beady eyes, and said: “You ruined it. You ruined it forever.”

Then again, two of those guys are dead and one is alive in the Midwest. I've no inclination to die anywhere right away or to live in the Midwest, so I might as well go on being me, leaving odd things on the page (screen) and wondering how they connect.