There is still the funny little matter of what to save and what to throw out. This question comes up every few weeks or years, when the urge arises to gut entire closets with their stacks of storage tubs half-buried in all manner of curious debris — papers, crayons, lamps, fried or obsolete electronics — even old decorative pillows long past their presentable lifetimes. Some decisions are easy. For instance, anything that belongs properly to the department of family history, and which would help us, or our children later on, sort out who we are and how we came to be this way, is something to keep. The trouble is, this includes, in one way or another, almost everything in the house. And of course books of any kind are completely off limits. But what about the physical remains of my so-called writing career? Naturally, I want to keep printed samples of things I’ve written and drawn — books, small press literary magazines, newspapers, and so on. And in a way, these too fall under the heading of family history. Not only do they help explain me, they are a pleasant reminder and partial indicator of the hell I put everyone through during the process of getting the work done and into print. And while that suffering is all a thing of the past and my approach to life and work is entirely different now, these tangible artifacts, if nothing else, help show a portion of that transition. Important? Again, that isn’t for me to decide. But grinding up folders full of worthless old email printed for no good reason is for me to decide. Recycling rotten stories and poems I didn’t like twenty years ago and still don’t like also makes sense. There will be enough as it is to sort through when I’m gone. Why leave trash behind? In theory, other than the printed publications, all that’s needed to represent my time on this earth is this website. And what happens to it is anyone’s guess. I suppose it could be turned into a book as well. Ugh. I get old just thinking about it. Why wait? I might as well be buried between two covers now.
A Working Arrangement
I trade shifts with my subconscious.
That’s been our arrangement for some time.
I die at night, he toes the line.
When morning comes, my chair is warm.
The room is strewn with all that he’s imagined.
A river runs, trees are down, a rooster crows
From the window sill. I find myself alone.
Sometimes there’s a note: Go home,
It says, go home. I’ve done everything you could.
Let someone else clean up the mess.
And someone always does — though who,
I’ve never known.
Songs and Letters, March 19, 2007