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Down the Breakwater

The lake is never still.
It can calm to the point where
it’s glassy over the shallows, and the waves
barely ripple onto the beach, their sloshing
easily inaudible when an airliner
flies over on its approach to O’Hare.

The sky is overcast, the clouds a low, quiet jumble
in blue and gray and even white.  The elevated train
clacks by a few blocks back of the lake.
The finches are fat and hop about the beach.
Down the breakwater, a man in a bright orange
jacket faces the lake and speaks with some fierceness.
He may be rehearsing or he may be having a breakdown
or he may have already had it and be hopelessly lost.
Another jet flies over, another train passes by,
three more finches land on the beach.

Published inOniontownPoemsWords

8 Comments

  1. Chicago looks good on you, Tetman.

    • Feels good, too.

      Still looking to get a job before the money runs out.

  2. I’m in the same boat. I was interviewing, but my husband says I should finish the draft and send it in first, and worry about the 9-5 later. Hopefully my son doesn’t get sick of rice and beans in the meantime.

    • You should write as much as you can while you can. I’ve been using the extra time I have not as well as I think I ought, the IWay has so many interesting places to pull over and view the sights. Along with getting settled in and doing the daily job search and the ever-crushing amount of reading a writer must do and also exercising and laundry and grocery shopping, I’ve started writing two new books. I had only intended to start one, but the other one has been coming out, too.

      This evening, though, Susan and I are off to a gun-control rally. I must hurry and get ready.

  3. Two books at once! That’s impressive. Novels? Memoir?

    I’m writing like crazy. I’ve been doing hardly anything else. I have an end-of-October deadline for the draft of this book and it’s still more mess than manuscript.

    • End of October’s still two months away. I bet you’ll make that deadline.

      I hate to talk about my own works-in-progress, but since I’m the one who brought it up….

      One book appears to be a collection of poetry as it appears I began writing poetry again as soon as I got to Chicago. It’s the stuff I’ve been posting every day. It doesn’t seem all of it will make it into a final manuscript. I don’t believe I’m any great shakes as a poet and had largely given up writing verse. We’ll see how it turns out.

      The other is a novel. It’s a book I’ve spent many long hours working on at various times over many years. I would set it aside and work on other things, then take it up again but not get it right, so I would set it aside again. It didn’t begin to come into focus until ten years ago. Part of the problem was that it was so close to me, it was as though I couldn’t get out of my own way. Another part of the problem was I couldn’t find the right way in; couldn’t find the keys that would unlock the proper locks, open the gates.

      This past spring I found what I believe to be one of the crucial keys. There seem to have been three. One was given to me by Susan ten years ago after she read an earlier draft of the book. The third I believe I have found since I got to Chicago. I wasn’t looking for it and didn’t realize there was another lock that would appear and need to be unlocked, but there it was. I’ve had to find all the locks, and all the keys. There are various books I still would like to write, but I realized earlier this year that this one book was the one book I would regret dying without having written. I determined to begin (or rather, resume) working on it as soon as I got to Chicago, and so I have.

  4. I envy the fact that you’ve got a book in you that you would regret not having written—also that you have found what you need in Chicago in order to get down to it. Writing seems like a calling for you in a way that I have not experienced; what I do is find a roadside kernel and grow it, with hothouse and cow shit and insecticides. It seems so artificial compared to the way your work evolves.

    • Writing called me when I was very young, but I have no natural talent for it. What I’ve been able to achieve with it has been through study, work, and the openness of desperation.

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