Somewhere under the rainbow September 2, 2011Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
“Write drunk. Edit sober.”
– Ernest Hemmingway
Probably not the best advice but then there was Papa and Tennessee and if I gave it some serious thought I could go on. Bukowski only took the first piece to heart and left us all his editors but its worth the search, panning through the best forgotten to find that glint of gold in the bottom of the pan, the diamond among the quartz.
I do some of my best writing hungover with a bit too much coffee in me, and I hate those days when I have to drive into the office and the words and ideas pop like fireballs from a roman candle and no time to stop and write them down, busy as an insect scuttling from one task to the next and you come home and lay in bed and can’t bring any of them back. Damn. Another hundred babies in the mouth of Moloch.
Work is truly the curse of the
drinking creative class.
The office is as featureless as the road stretching toward the cloud mountains of the rolling Dakotas, occasional billboards screaming pay mortgage, ten o’clock meeting. go to grocery, answer email, do laundry, deadline tomorrow. Smack dead and nodding in the middle of the continent dreaming of oceans, ghost signals on the FM and pedal steel soybean reports crackling over the AM.
You stare at the highway but don’t let yourself become hypnotized, eyes roam over the instruments, speed 78, gas three-eights, tach and temp steady but not too long. There is a term from aviation that I often encounter at work, task saturation. On the highway starting at the map on your knee or desperately searching the radio and suddenly the lonely overpass stanchion on the next road to no where is coming up on you at 120 feet per second and only the rumble strips save you.
You begin to wonder what lies up those empty roads, numbered exits, no services. Somewhere out there a tree stands alone, older than North Dakota and you wonder what spirits inhabit the rise it has conquered and held against a hundred brutal winter. Take the other turn and find a glacial pond filled with trumpeter swans ballet graceful on their brown stage yet raucous in their calls as a brass band testing their embouchures.
Speed climbs over 80 breasting the next rolling ridge, gas one-quarter (bingo to Bismark), radio useless, the horizon rushing toward you vacant as a corridor of discount malls and over the crackle of Saskatchewan cattle prices a tinny voice in the back of your head urgently deadpans: Eject! Eject! Eject!
The tires hiss in your ears, a distant bit of sand, butt sunk in the damp wash, baby waves rolling in the calm, the kiss of the wave and the gentle hiss of it’s retreat calling you in, the gentle tug like eyes and hands locked backward into the bedroom and in this dangerous 80 mile-per-hour daydream suddenly the undertow is pulling you toward another horizon, the conquistador possibilities of a southern ocean. Loud arrows in the sky call to you, pointing south: last star to the right and straight on until dawn.