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(March 2005)

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Jeremy's journal

Understanding makes the mind lazy.

Penelope Fitzgerald


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Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Lauren* and Peter (morning)

I want to think about this story (or poem, or poem-story) I am trying to write, without actually working (right now) on writing it -- analyze what I have, what I'm looking for, how to get there, whether it is worth while. Suddenly realized this morning that this blog would be an agreeable venue for such a project -- a journal is the right place for thinking about the writing process. Maybe I'll come up with something useful, maybe not. What I have right now, what seems like a well-crafted kernel for a SOPOPS -- a lovely fun, sing-song meter that is reminding me a bit of "The Raven" and occasional rhyme; two characters Lauren and Peter in a stable, complex relationship, living together, maybe not connecting with each other quite as much as they'd like to, needing and not always finding each other's support; I have the setting as a smallish town, maybe upstate NY, maybe Maryland, and the house they live in, not far from the commercial district of the town. A garden, the the street they live on is not really described yet but I have a vague picture of it in mind -- small houses, the lots are not super-wide but not cramped either. When the story opens it is early morning on a Sunday late in Spring, still pretty dark out but getting light in the east, streetlights are still on. Peter can't sleep, he is walking down the street wishing something was open in town, a shop where he could buy a pack of cigarettes, longing for a little human contact -- and this longing is strange because after all his (wife? long-term girlfriend?) Lauren is back at home, realizing he's not in bed with her, (and the understanding here is that this has been a habit of his, insomnia, not being around early in the morning). Scene changes are kind of loosely spaced here, she's in the bathroom, she hears him downstairs, hopes he's making coffee, then they are both downstairs in the eat-in kitchen with a coffeepot, he's not meeting her eye.

But so now what happens? I'm thinking there was some transaction between them in the last day or two that made the two of them uncomfortable, drove them a little apart, but I'm not sure what it was, quite, and anyway that is more scene-setting, what needs to happen is a plot of some kind that will unfold over the course of the day. Structurally it would be nice to have three chapters, named maybe Morning, Afternoon, Evening, with maybe a Yesterday in between the last two. Hoping the result of whatever happens in the story will be Lauren and Peter feeling a bit more of a connection in the last scene, where they are going to bed Sunday evening, here I could see putting a short bit of conversation, just a couple of lines, and a pleasant visual description of the shadow on the wall by their bedside, possibly even hinted-at hanky panky. So no earth-shattering revelation in other words, just a day in the life, a minor resolution of a minor clash. (Yeah, still nothing in focus, but at least the sense that there is an image there to come into focus.)

* Is this the right name for her? I had "Laura" for a while but last night came to believe that it did not sound quite right. I guess she could also be named "Kathy"... Her husband (or long-term boyfriend) Peter is definitely named Peter. Not sure why but it seems to fit him like a glove.

† The newly-dubbed genre of Story (Or Poem, Or Story-Poem)

posted morning of June 30th, 2012: 1 response
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Sunday, July first, 2012

Revision!

Another stab at the story of Laura and Peter's day in the life.

Morning

Laura's wishing Peter would just
Drop this false persona, would just
Break this patterned silence
Where he's built a lonesome castle. Now she
Cries out in the morning when she
Wakes and finds him gone. She wishes
He'd reach out and touch her, wants
To hold him in his grief -- she wants to
Have back these long years that
     she's been waiting for his voice. Peter's
Walking in the garden, where his
Winding paths are laid,
Blooming crocus in the springtime, blooming
Hostas in the shade, he wanders
Down the road to town, but nothing's
Open Sunday morning, now he
Rubs his eyes and wonders if he'll
      ever find his home.

Expectation conquers knowledge and the
Evidence of senses; what I
      see and hear and feel
      I'll never grasp, I'll never find;
For all I cogitate and pray I'll never
Sit beside your bedside, seeing
Gauzy patterns traced out
On the page of wounded time.

She gets up, groggy, runs the water,
Steaming up the mirror, she hears
Peter downstairs in the kitchen,
      hopes he's making coffee,
Laura's tired out, she didn't sleep well,
Combs her hair and squints and in the
Mirror she can see the look of
      anguish on her face.

She's downstairs with a cup of coffee,
Looking quizzically at Peter,
Peter's solemn face that just
      can't seem to meet her gaze.
A question's in the air and they both know it, but the
      heavy silence keeps their lips held tight; keeps
Heavy thoughts drawn back to yesterday.

Peter in his sweatshirt and his
Groggy eyes, unshaven, takes the
     coffeepot that's sitting
On the table, on the table.
He mumbles some reply to Laura's gaze, he smells the coffee,
Smiles weakly, frets; he says
The weather's beautiful outside this morning,
      springtime Sunday morning, says
      we ought to take our bikes up to the Glen Trail, take a ride.  

Afternoon

Laura's in the garden, weeding,
Smiling, legs are aching
From the ride up Union Hill to Chester
      fresh now in her memory;
She bends down, and the shadow
Of the mountain laurel's branches
Writes — asemic scripture sliding off her shoulder as she moves.
Peter's sitting reading in the sunshine, drinking coffee,
Now his book lies open on the lawn,
      he's watching Laura working,
Dancing slow across the garden,
Yellow t-shirt smudged with topsoil,
Dancing slow across the garden
      through the sunlight and the shade.

Evening

Laura's by the bedside, catches
Peter's eye, she smiles and asks him
      what's he thinking, work tomorrow, ready for another week?
He yawns and stretches, smiles back, already dreaming some,
      he mumbles, says let's take some time off in July, he'll maybe
      take some days around the 4th... and fireworks already going
      off in the air around them

posted morning of July first, 2012: 2 responses
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Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Some other approaches to Laura and Peter (mistranslation and shortcuts)

Trying to flesh out the characters slightly... here are some different, fragmentary approaches, and a picture of my backyard that I'm happy with.

posted afternoon of July 4th, 2012: 1 response
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