Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More thoughts on writing

Through the years I learn that it is not up to the writer to be interesting, but merely to be truthful. For writers are nothing more than conveyors of truth when they can latch on to it, even if it meant doing it in various disguises of lies or wildly disconnected images.

In that regard, whether or not the writing is good is not to be determined by the writer, who in any case is only a messenger waiting or coaxing on the edge of the tangibles. A master of his craft he might be, his craft serves solely as a facilitator of truth echoed from the beyond, therefore the only way he can progress in his trade is in improving the accuracy at which he relay what he received. That's all any artist can do; learn the basic rules of the means - in this case, language - and learn to pay intense attention.

Then again there is this relatively new school of thought that propounds the idea of making art for art's sake; such as a door is no longer a door but a cat. In all that a writer does, his primary task is to be truthful, and then to make sense. I believe these two are one, or came from one single source. To be truthful is to be boldly honest. By making sense I mean keeping the truth in check, for we can be overly bold unto self-indulgent and forget to be truly honest.

The truth conveyed could make sense without anybody yet recognizing it, but it must make sense. The internal coherence has to be there and conform to the shared principles of reason or the whole message breaks down. To make a door a cat might sound avant-garde but is in fact dangerous. Art could be an overlooked message projected into space that never falls onto a right-distanced wall, but it isn't nothing. Art for its own sake isn't a form of art. Art for art's sake, like any meaning turned on its head, is nothing. And it is always dangerous to make something out of nothing - a task even God does not attempt.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

"The Golden Streak (The Rise of the Adiós Chorus)"

Some men have it if you looked
Against the evening shadows of
Their purified walks - that crystalline gold
Like burned honey or virgin oil, cast
In the light that diffused a rough silhouette
Into deep tangerine.


You catch fire when you play
In harmony with him, stroking drums
And shouting in unison with
That morbid Adiós chorus -
Though the crowd gathers
The fire spread despite of it;
You answer life's profoundest questions
In his quietly approving presence
After a long drawn-out sigh
Perfected in pitch and tune.


The young is lost in the throng of
Human activity in pitch black street,
They always learn a moment too late...
But you'll never find wisdom in night -
At best, polite telephone messages
Exchanged out of salvaged traditions.


You let your face be kissed
For an affirmation you never reject
Not because of the residual pride in you,
But a walk to the cafeteria
With instruction whether it's plain or white
Never felt this dignified -
For what satisfies more than
Knowing to be known?
In the matter of changing songs
I never doubt your capacity;
For it is always right to trust the selection
To the old - the mightily wise!


And the chorus gigante sings on:
Adiós, adiós, buenos hermanos!...
Adiós, adiós, buenos hermanos!...

To the lasting memories of Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer y hermanos, who paid me a brief but grand visit in dream. Words are scarce and all fall short of capturing the divine streak of their music.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

"Young Lovers For Life"

Twenty years he's lived,
The last five loved the girl who's been
In and out of his twenty.


Day their carriage fell, she whispered
She's glad to die by his side, then
His arms felt like wings taking flight...


When he had just turned nine, he said
At the end of a swinging-rope,
"Just don't let go!..." And she never did.

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The power of certain songs

There are certain songs in my playlist that I only listen to when I need to jog a particular segment of my memory.

Or should I say: when I'm brave enough to relive certain memories.

There are a handful of songs I know that attach only too closely to certain emotions. Some songs only you know them. Others you shared with someone wishing they would become theirs too. And yet others someone told you about and had since become yours forever.

Whichever special song you're listening to, it is as if a whole disappearing world came back to life as it slowly spread out with the unfolding of the meshes of tunes and words... and that's when you know they've never been gone.

Just locked away behind those special songs.

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