In this episode kick back and contemplate. We have a wonderful discussion on the awareness of the writer’s vestibular space within physical, mental, and even spiritual engagement. By a similar fashion, I offer a brief talk on how I came across The Common Man by Maurice Manning. And in What’s on My Desk This Week, Adam Love’s chapbook Another Small Fire from Tired Hearts Press. Read below for both the poems discussed in this episode. Thank you again to River Pretty Writers Retreat. Above all, please enjoy!
Robert Vivian is the author of two award-winning books of meditative essays, Cold Snap As Yearning and The Least Cricket Of Evening. He is also the author of The Tall Grass Trilogy–The Mover Of Bones, Lamb Bright Saviors, and Another Burning Kingdom. His most recent published novel is Water And Abandon. He’s also written many plays that have been produced in NYC, many of whose monologues have been published in The Best American Monologues for both men and women. He wrote an adaptation of Ibsen’s Ghosts in 2006 that premiered at Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo. His essays have been mentioned numerous times in The Best American Essay Series, and his stories, poems, and essays have appeared in magazines and journals like Harper’s, Georgia Review, Creative Nonfiction, and scores of others. In 2008 he was the first American ever to teach at Ondokuz Mayis University in Samsun, Turkey; he currently teaches as associate professor at Alma College in Michigan. He’s just completed two new novels, The Town That Burns Eternity Into Your Soul and Return To Hush Moon Lake.
A Prayer to God My God in a Time of Desolation
I guess you know about it all,
my woman trouble. That’s what I call it,
though in a way I should say the trouble
has been with you. It’s pretty bad,
but tell me when was it pretty good?
I ain’t complainin’. You like that ain’t,
an uncouth ain’t in a prayer to you?
He thinks he’s tough now, don’t he? No,
I’m gentle. If there’s a rough old cob
round here, it’s you, and I like you for it,
you sneaky old hidden son of a nothing.
Hey, do you remember what’s her name?
She was such a little thing. She chirped
so perfectly I told her we
should live in a tree like a couple of birds.
It sure was fun to feel her flutter.
Is it okay to call it fun?
Because I like it, though what I wanted
was what i thought the flutter should
have meant–a little time with you.
That was a stretch. Those were the days
when I believed you wanted me
to find a woman who wanted to live
in a tree, two birds of a feather,
all love-covey. Well, it turns out
not many women want to live
in a tree, because not many women
think of themselves as birds. They’re women,
people, and i don’t get along
so well with people, thanks to you,
who bent my heart from the beginning
to creatures with four legs, or wings.
Have I told you you’re a weirdo? You
should have made me a horse and been done with it;
I could have drawn a plow and scratched
my hide against a tree or cribbed
a fence in a pasture. Or better yet,
I could have been an owl and combed
the hair of night before she lays
her head to sleep. How’s that for gentle?
I used to think it was you and me,
but now I think it’s only you.
You’re on your own, so be it. If that’s
the way you want it, alone, amen.
Frank Stanford Turning 30
final echo of heartbeat as he raises
the pistol to his chest and sheds his skin
he will never feel his hands again
tapestries of wild orchids paint the moon
on the battlefield where only it can say
I love you poor Frank he wants to know
why but already knows the answer
tears in his napkin sobbing only brings
out the best in me he thinks goddamn these
bullets their conversations were vacant
the scent of snow in his nostrils
the cool evening waiting
a cooing dove its wing trapped under the tread
of his front tire where its shadow will be
the only light the dead see while the moon
pulls blood from its many lovers
flowers burning in a jar
two women set out a dish of milk
to tell his story to the living