Sunday, June 21, 2015

William Myrl, Letters to No One (10)

Dear No One,
What is the word for wanting and not having? To yen, to yearn, longing; these are weak words. They are the lackadaisical languishing of a loveless lover, they are full of moonlight and sadness and the mewling 
of youth unfulfilled. What is the word for your heart slamming into your chest? What is that kind of wanting? What is the word for having your hands afire and a dynamo pumping lightning into your stomach, and none of it having anywhere to go? What is that kind of want, that it burns out so quickly, reduced in stature to that of its whimpering cousin?
Did you know that Dickenson is my favorite poet? She is the most consistently good of any that I know. Poe, his good stuff is the stuff everybody has heard of plus, The Conqueror Worm. The rest is worthless residue of his higher workings. Emily has her faults and fails, but her thing with feathers flutters despite them.
Oh, yes, I forgot I was supposed to tell you how the common fare thing turned out. If you haven't had a charge in a given amount of time, and I haven't, you can ask for an informal resolution. This comes with a reprimand, which is nothing, and it will stay off your record as long as you don't catch any more charges in the next six months. At the hearing the officer in command turned off the recorder to commiserate about how terrible veggie patties are. She was talking about the ones they serve at Burger King. It is not the same. On a related note, I wrote the counselor twice and about two weeks later, was removed from the common fare diet. Amusingly, the diets are signified by colored IDs. Red is regular, and blue special diet. I'd had my ID for four years when they sent me back to get a new one. The new, blue ID was the reason the co noticed I was on common fare and wrote me up. Now I will have the blue ID for the next four years or so.
Jark is working on his proposal for the newsletter. He handles the facts and I handle the bullshitting he doesn’t have time for. We've got most of a draft for the first issue, and if it happens, I‘m doing a recurring article about cognitive science. Delightful. The admins seem open to the idea, pending a proposal. Double whammy, Squarehead and Triangle, Prison Edition. No kidding. No takebacksies. We'll see if anything comes of it.
So, I had another psych visit today. I enjoy it, as it gives me a platform to play the anomalous inmate. Two students today, a boy and girl. They were easy to engage with. We went through the usual background talk and questions, things about medication and prison life. I showed them a picture I had drawn, as an example of my hobbies and because I am full of myself. Towards the end the good doctor brought up poetry. We have talked about it before and it helps as a demonstrative lesson about things you don't expect to find in prison. I go through the story about how few books there were in jail, as well as how little available occupation there was in general. I memorized poetry because it gave me something they couldn’t take away. It also helped in the many, many hours I spent in empty holding cells waiting to go to and from lawyer visits and court appearances for three identical cases in three different counties. Jabberwocky wasn't going to cut it.
I don't know exactly how many poems I have left in my head, let alone how many lines. I don't keep up with them like I used to. They are organized by author, the only way to keep track. From some I know a few lines, from some a few hundred. I rattle off the list (blakecarrolcoleridgedickinsonkeatspoeCAsmith) and the doctor asks if I would care to recite one, because it is not something that happens often in his office, I presume. I tell the students to pick a name, because otherwise I might be cheating (it’s what I would think if I was them), and she picks Dickinson. I know five of those, and I try to remember the shortest, which takes me a moment. (it’s such a little thing to weep, so small a thing to sigh, and yet by trades the size of these, we men and women die) I haven't read any Dickinson in five years, so you will forgive me if my wording is inexact. She responds with her favorite short piece, the one that ends "the cutting of a knife". I know I’ve read it but I didn't recognize it immediately. I responded with "much madness is divinest sense...(It's a good poem, google it) I don't recall what came just after that. Soon I left. I get a bit dysphoric thinking about it, just as I always become lethargic after my family visits and lay around a while. The wanting and not having.
“Hope, is a thing with feathers that flutters in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops, at all,” Emily Dickinson. And here's one of mine.
Ode To Soup-----
How strange to live in parallel----
And catch a glimpse of you---
To know that there is music left---
And beauty, color too---
How often have I thought it odd---
That small things can seem grand---
When out of place, and out of time---
Brought from another land---
What little value we do place---
On passing glances, passing smiles---
How much their value would increase---
If sent abroad, to distant isles---
To say a word, to spark a light---
To share a secret song---
And how it hurts, and how it hurts---
When it will not last long---

This reminds me of why I mostly stopped sending poetry to my mother the last couple of years. It is really all this melancholy.

Yours, William Myrl (10)

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