Readers and Writers
We work this thing together, you and I. I can feel you when you read me. Do you know the Leonard Cohen line, "I can feel you, fell you when you breathe?" Well, it's not that creepy, but it's pretty intense. Cinderella is sometimes alarmed that I am so immediately friendly with strangers at readings. It's my job, of course. I live, travel, trust among complete strangers. For a person who was equally shy and insane with explosive highjinks, it's strange at best to be cornered in rooms all the time with a few hundred people I don't know. But I meet good readers. (There are good readers like there are good writers, and those readers know that reading is a collaborative thing--it's a full-contact sport--and it's up to them to join me in creating the trance, dream, scene, fable.) When I meet you, I know you because I have felt you. It only takes a few moments to sense each other.

Of course, I am naive. In over my head. And many sneaky and strange things happen because I believe. Perhaps this is why our Indigenous friends told Cinderella her totem animal was a she-bear. Oh yeah, she'll rip bad guys to pieces.

Writing and reading are dangerous. I think all holy pursuits are like this. Why, you could burst into flame or fly into the sky.

But still, and ever, you must trust. "Simply trust," the master Kobayashi Issa said, "as this cherry blossom flowers, fades, then falls." I want to fling myself into bloom and let the wind take me back when my poem is complete. (Of course, with good readers, the poem will never be complete, even when I'm buried. My headstone, I promise, will say "Talk to Me, I'm Listening." I'll have a bench there for you. Come find me. But the work will go on writing itself forever, because good readers will rewrite it as they read it. Like I do with Kobayashi Issa!)

Here's a beautiful William Stafford poem about writing--for all you fellow travelers out there.


You and Art

Your exact errors make a music
that nobody hears.
Your straying feet find the great dance,
walking alone.
And you live on a world where stumbling
always leads home.

Year after year fits over your face--
when there was youth, your talent
was youth;
later, you find your way by touch
where moss redeems the stone;

And you discover where music begins
before it makes any sound,
far in the mountains where canyons go
still as the always-falling, ever-new flakes of snow.

(To be found in Stafford's amazing writing-book, You Must Revise Your Life.)


Did you heard what he said? Did you read well? Can you feel him? ...stumbling always leads home.... Yes? Your exact errors make a music.... Yes!

Surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away.

Yrs 4ever, L

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