29 June 2018

North to Alaska


by Thomas Pluck

Thomas Pluck
By the time you read this I will have been eaten by bears.

Or moose. A Møøse once bit my sister.

Remember Monty Python? Ah, those were the days, discovering off-kilter comedy on Public Broadcasting, brought from overseas. Now I scroll through cable and everything looks like a commercial. Maybe I'm just old and cranky, I just turned 47, which is the new 29, but still old. I am frightened for my country. We have a taste for war and little empathy, because we have never been invaded. Well, the South knows war better than we do. They're still bitter over it, even though they started it. War leaves scars. And the last person to get hit always thinks they're the victim.

In a few days I'll be visiting Canada, and after the President's foolish comments, I'm wary of meeting strangers. Usually when I travel, I like finding a pub to meet the locals. When I visited Ireland during the Bush II Presidency, I drank a lot of free pints from people who wanted to ask why we elected that buffoon. Now I'm more concerned that I'll have a beer splashed in my face, or worse.

Yuppie problems. Boo hoo, my country's harmful policies might ruin my vacation.

What does this have to do with writing? Nothing, and everything.

I haven't been writing. Not as much as I'd like, or at all, depending on the day. I have trouble seeing the point.

Then I find some motivation and chunk along a bit, editing the crap I wrote the days before, and adding some more to it.

The dance band kept playing on the Titanic. People need entertainment more than ever.

When I feel this way I am reminded of a wonderful poem by Maggie Smith, called "Good Bones."

Good Bones

BY MAGGIE SMITH
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Or if you'd rather have it in a snappy hardboiled patter, the final lines from the movie Seven, written by Andrew Kevin Walker: "Ernest Hemingway once wrote, 'the world is a fine place, and worth fighting for.' I agree with the second part." Hemingway's full words are, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it." But he did, when he felt useless. And he left so many cats behind. I can't imagine doing that. The cats survived, as they do. They even survived Hurricane Irma, when cat lovers fretted over the 54 six-toed felines. They weathered the storm in Hemingway's villa with its 18 inch thick limestone walls, as did the curators of the house. He built something with good bones, that outlived his own despair.

And we all do, when we write with our hearts in it.

I'll keep fighting.


9 comments:

Leigh Lundin said...

Worry not. I was in Europe when another president started another silly war, and people were sympathetic. I was in France when a president insulted them for trying to warn us about a terrorist attack. They were kind and forbearing. Canadians are more sensible than we are. People are better than we deserve.

As for moose, don't lock horns with me. I'm now known as Leigh the Elk Slayer.

O'Neil De Noux said...

That was pretty eloquent. Keep writing. Just keep writing.

janice law said...

Love the poem!

Robert Lopresti said...

Have fun. I look forward to reading the book you are researching up there.

Elizabeth said...

Bears ... one was seen this morning in Attica, N.Y. Yesterday morning on the interstate in Amherst, a car going about 50 mph (I think) hit a bear, but somehow it survived the accident & ran into the woods. People are speculating as to how many bears are out running around. Some people say it's only one bear that gets around really fast.

I only live five miles from Canada. I wish we lived on the other side of the border.

Eve Fisher said...

Have a great time - I just got back from Europe. Treated wonderfully by all the people, who sympathized with me greatly over our current administration. Take care, keep writing, and remember, "living well is the best revenge."

Manuel Royal said...

When I visited the U.K. in 2005, I went to an Italian restaurant in Blackburn, with Middle Eastern waiters. A waiter kept calling me "George Bush". He said "I'm Saddam Hussein!" Excellent meal.

Working on a novel now where the protagonist feels as helpless as I do, for different reasons. She finds a way to fix it, and I have to hope my benighted country will too.

Barb Goffman said...

Nice post. I've been thinking on similar lines.

Travis Richardson said...

Well said, Tom. The world is worth fighting for.