Dear Kung Fu ~~
In case you ever worry that I’ll run out of love poems for you, rest easy in the knowledge that it’s not possible.
Writers complain about having to stare down daily the blank page, how it’s such a horrible mountain to climb every day. I think a worse fate is to stare inside and see nothing.
Until I was maybe twenty-five, I thought everyone had a passion. For something. But when I had encountered enough people who could confirm to me that that was actually NOT the case, I couldn’t fathom it.
It’s like the thing you’ve mentioned that makes you not fit in. So then you say to yourself—as a young adult—ok, now what do I do with this? Aside from starting to accept yourself for being different, an artist has to figure out how to bring forth the stuff that emanates from that beautiful flaw. It’s not an easy road.
It’s one thing to have talent, of course. It’s yet another to have the work ethic and tenacity to make good on the gift. When I finish a story, I’m filled with relief. (And gratitude). But then—dread. Pretty much always. Because when I’m not charging ahead on the work in front of me, it means I have to start all over again. It means I no longer have permission to perseverate on those last few sentences. It means that I have to have fruitful daydreams and hope that I have enough substance to render an original premise and new characters, each with his or her own arc…and so on.
Thankfully, when I hit a dry patch, I can usually look to poetry or music to re-energize me. I guess because I feel my medium is so much more than just letters and punctuation: words are sound, meter, rhyme, connotation, history.
What I’m trying to say is that I think in the circuit containing the points between talent and product, one hopes for not only a wellspring but access. For me, it resides in all the writers I love who’ve gone before me. For years and years, it’s been my nourishment. Or, if I’m tired or in a mood, I’ll listen to music, which often turns my mind in crazy directions, a welcome outcome.
And nowadays, there’s you. I know that whatever happens, I believe that you understand me and will continue to hope for me, as I do you.
That’s why there will always be love poems.
Easter and the Totem, Jackson Pollack (1953)
MOST glorious Lord of Lyfe! that, on this day,
Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;
And, having harrowd hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin;
And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dye,
Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin,
May live for ever in felicity!
And that Thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love Thee for the same againe;
And for Thy sake, that all lyke deare didst buy,
With love may one another entertayne!
So let us love, deare Love, lyke as we ought,
—Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.
Red Bird, Agnes Martin (1964)
Red bird came all winter
Firing up the landscape
As nothing else could.
Of course I love the sparrows,
Those dun-colored darlings,
So hungry and so many.
I am a God-fearing feeder of birds,
I know he has many children,
Not all of them bold in spirit.
Still, for whatever reason—
Perhaps because the winter is so long
And the sky so black-blue,
Or perhaps because the heart narrows
As often as it opens—
I am grateful
That red bird comes all winter
Firing up the landscape
As nothing else can do.