Story Up My Sleeve #2: “Drunk With Love,” by Ellen Gilchrist

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'Nora Jane: A Life in Stories,' by Ellen Gilchrist

The first shock passed up the desk and through his hands and into his jaw. Books fell from their shelves, a chair slid into a window, there were crashes downstairs. She’s in the car, he thought. She’s in that goddamn convertible. He got up and pulled the door open and moved out into the hall. The stairway was still there. He ran down the stairs and found Francis in the History section holding onto a man in a raincoat. Several customers were huddled around the cash register. Willis and Eileen were on the floor with their arms over their heads. “Get out into the street,” Freddy yelled. “For Christ’s sake, get out of here. There’s too much to fall. Let’s go. Let’s get outside.” He pushed a group of customers through the turnstile. The second shock came. A section of art books fell across Children’s Fantasy.

“Out the door,” he was screaming. “For Christ’s sake get out the door. Francis, get over here. Get out that door before it shatters.” He dragged the customers along with him. They were barely out the door when the third shock came. The front window collapsed around the sign Clara Books, Clara For Light. His baby. The whole front window caved in upon a display of photography books. It moved in great triangular plates right down on top of Irving Penn and Ansel Adams and Disfarmer and David Hockney and Eugene Smith. A five thousand-dollar print of “Country Doctor” fell across the books.


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(Under) Mining Your Dreams

[Image: “Good and Evil,” by Daniel Merriam. See the original, more clearly, at Merriam’s own site.]

From whiskey river’s commonplace book (“the pursuit of fantasy“):

Writing in the Dark

It’s not difficult.
Anyway, it’s necessary.

Wait till morning, and you’ll forget.
And who knows if morning will come.

Fumble for the light, and you’ll be
stark awake, but the vision
will be fading, slipping
out of reach.

You must have paper at hand,
a felt-tip pen, ballpoints don’t always flow,
pencil points tend to break. There’s nothing
shameful in that much prudence: those are our tools.

Never mind about crossing your t’s, dotting your i’s–
but take care not to cover
one word with the next. Practice will reveal
how one hand instinctively comes to the aid of the other
to keep each line
clear of the next.

Keep writing in the dark:
a record of the night, or
words that pulled you from depths of unknowing,
words that flew through your mind, strange birds
crying their urgency with human voices,

or opened
as flowers of a tree that blooms
only once in a lifetime:

words that may have the power
to make the sun rise again.

(Denise Levertov [source])


Surely you remember

After they all leave,
I remain alone with the poems,
some poems of mine, some of others.
I prefer poems that others have written.
I remain quiet, and slowly
the knot in my throat dissolves.
I remain.

Sometimes I wish everyone would go away.
Maybe it’s nice, after all, to write poems.
You sit in your room and the walls grow taller.
Colors deepen.
A blue kerchief becomes a deep well.

You wish everyone would go away.
You don’t know what’s the matter with you.
Perhaps you’ll think of something.
Then it all passes, and you are pure crystal.

After that, love.
Narcissus was so much in love with himself.
Only a fool doesn’t understand
he loved the river, too.

You sit alone.
Your heart aches, but
won’t break.
The faded images wash away one by one.
Then the defects.
A sun sets at midnight. You remember
the dark flowers too.

You wish you were dead or alive or
somebody else.
Isn’t there a country you love? A word?
Surely you remember.

Only a fool lets the sun set when it likes.
It always drifts off too early
westward to the islands.

Sun and moon, winter and summer
will come to you,
infinite treasures.

(Dahlia Ravikovitch; translated by Chana Bloch and Ariel Bloch)

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