Journal, 5/31: Only What I Mean
Sometimes I like to think
that I am a small pot of water
and all my passing days
are the heat beneath me
and I am beginning to simmer
I am turning into steam
and one day soon I will become
the air: still myself, only everywhere.
Only what I mean
by water is my body and
by steam, I mean words, and
by everywhere, I mean
This poem came to me in almost this exact form while on the way for my late afternoon coffee. It is in some ways a variation on the theme of the gorgeous ending of Song of Myself by the goodly Walt, and more directly inspired by Stanley Kunitz’s Passing Through: “gradually I’m changing to a word…” Still, I think there is something uniquely my own that I’ve been trying to say for some time that is now said exactly right in the poem above.
There was a reading of the thick middle of Encryption at the Reverie Writer’s Group, and I was surprised by how well it clipped along and held everyone’s attention. I think after DEINDE I’m extra-sensitive of my inclination to fully explore character and idea at the expense of plot, but at least after this reading, no one named a section that felt slow or unnecessary, even with my prompting.
Still, there was something that wasn’t feeling right about the play until seven pages this morning, when the emotional heat turned way up in a betrayal (or is it?) scene between Feehan and Lydie. I love writing the teacher-student relationship, and this one is increasingly rich. Now it’s all just dominoes until the end, and I may even finish it tonight, if I’m not too tired by the time I arrive home.
A new thing I’m going to try to live up to is chronicling some of the activism and political stuff I’m up to, which is mostly armchair at the moment. Some see no value in this kind of click-and-done advocacy, but for me, it serves two purposes:
- While the value of signing petitions is nearly zero, it isn’t quite; and the cumulative effect of many almost meaningless gestures can be quite meaningful.
- It helps create space in my busy brain for issues that I care deeply about but rarely give enough time to, and once they take root, even in this small way, they then are able to grow into more meaningful engagement.
So, here we go:
- Egypt, in case you didn’t know, has been in a continuous ‘state of emergency’ since 1981. With Mubarak gone and the law expiring today, there’s a very real chance 188+ people imprisoned by the law may see some form of justice.
- However you feel about Obama’s drone program (I love that keeps our soldiers out of harm’s way, I fear giving this much ease to executions), the Arab American Institute has a great essay on the slipperiness of their guilty-by-association casualty logic and how they choose targets. As robot warfare will only increase, I hope to explore these moral tensions in a future play.
- Help the Human Rights Campaign pressure big employers like H&M into going on record about their LGBT-friendly policies. This campaign seems to be proof-positive that soft pressure can sometimes change corporate behavior to protect human rights.
- Do you support the Carbon Pollution Standard? I would like you to, and so would your great-grandchildren.
All right, that’s good for now. Let’s finish this play!