A Requiem for My Wanton Words

The Purpose of this Delenda: A Limbo Between Digression and Deletion

During my last college semester I studied under a brilliant professor; he taught me to quiet my inner censor and to just write as I wish--despite my post-traumatic-professor-disorder which paralyzes me with self-doubt, these the war-wounds worn by so many students after years of terrible teachers, each either entirely apathetic or deeply entrenched within the utterly rote—their lectures just jaded regurgitations in Power Point, those slides cycling while the students fitfully sleep in-seat.I began writing a memoir for his class and I have yet to finish it; my writing has not been as clear and precise as it was while under my professor’s mentorship and I have more than doubled my original page length, though very little has actually been said therein. I am increasingly lent to my own obsessive compulsive writing tendencies. My prose has of-late been lost in loops and tangles of meaningless tangents—self-indulgent insertions of the beautiful words I love to taste in text.This blog is a collection of passages deleted from my memoir—an attempt to preserve wasted words, which are intrinsically sacred in spite of me. May they have their heaven here; may this final resting place, this Delenda, be better than nothing at all—better than true deletion.

If this unjust medium--this blog--be not the cure for my wild-fire writing, then surely The New School will be.

I was recently accepted to The New School in New York City for their MFA Creative Nonfiction Writing program for Fall 2010. Being accepted into such an esteemed university, being awarded such a coveted spot in their writing MFA program -- it's like winning the academic lottery. I have never been happier than I am in my dreams of a true academic setting. I know this will be the solace I have sought since being under the mentorship of my undergraduate writing professor.

This is me...

This is me...

This is me as well...

This is me as well...
In Death Valley, the Sand Dunes and Solitude Suited me Well.

November 11, 2009

Caput Lupinum: Crescit sub Pondere Virtus.

I wrote this for my creative nonfiction writing workshop, with Vijay Seshadri. It's about my experience with graduate-level writing workshops and craft classes. Brownie points to anyone who can figure out the relevance of that first little stanza (technically, it's the only secluded stanza, and there's a reason for that). It was fashioned in a very purposeful way, having little to do with the syntactical aesthetic or our association with the colloquial or formal definitions of the words therein. It's a little more...calculated...than that. :o)

Caput Lupinum:
Crescit sub Pondere Virtus.

(The Wolf's Head: Virtue Grows under Oppression)

my prose could
have some inherent
pattern, some elegant design—

—like the conch shells and ivy stalks and spiral galaxies
(ours is barred, you know. I wonder what that means for the series about which I speak – the Fibonacci sequence – does it still apply?)
All the living things, beget by the hand of nature,
so elegant in their simplicity,
so neat and clean and simple in form but clearly
Betwixted by some indefatigable force
That hand crafts with splendid precision all the budding leafy tendrils
And the star-strewn spilled-milk mosaic, our own dazzling tumble
Of tiny blinking brightlight,
luxen-lush sparkle-slush slather
Of stars
That holds the sun and moon and all that’s ours
In this little craven celestial nook, our locker in the hall of the bleak and nameless high school –
M, NGC, PS – some number.
And later on to college town
Where your inner voice is lost and found,
But not necessarily in that order. Of course I love it here.
And you know I’d sell my soul just to be here in-seat,
give me that scholar’s place in the sun, Sarah Lawrence,
Where the bards and dons do indeed
wear leather patches upon their old tweed
jackets – I’ve seen it for myself,
And so happy a sight was this
that when I turned back about,
and, agander ahead, I found where the last frail few hours of day had withered
silent and selcouth, horizon yon yet always away,
and there was nothing left to save
other than the heaving screech of crickets – oft’ in class they chant in tandem, and befuddled am I to witness,
that, beseeched by bards we are fain to listen,
to the audible affliction in the sound of crickets,
and the class bestows themselves the audience,
for epic spans of chirps, Dionysian
and cricket to cricket the room in repose
grant an audience so idling
to their own choral fiddling, at length.
And soon the sounds of crickets afar
with songs from bowed extremities
does make to me a wood full of enemies.
Desistence has served me well heretofore
but of the insufferable song in-accord
I, glazen-eyed have in silence stewed,
and laud to length I’ve given audience where none is due.
Must I rise
from seat and breach the harmony,
with a feral brute-song bellow, and leave the west woods again hush-fallen from tambour?
By and by my mind wanders anigh,
and I must wake and be
brusquely she, who breaks the chorus
with a noise.
For even now as I walk on my way, I hear the first chirp so inane
That no beguiling heather or westland meadow can in memory allay.
For the malady begins today anew, and already my ears do ring with rue, at this concert so coarse and lewd, and
that this vulgar tandem cantor is so beloved by the manor,
and all else who are in and of it.
Now, the sounds but grow the nearer, best I join the chorus for the fear,
that these noises may otherwise mute
forever mine the voice of their dispute,
because, a voice rings not from the gallows
(bells perhaps – from graves in shallows – but over the cry of crickets, a ringing bell beneath the fallow is a futile charm, as earth is muted by the alarm, of all the insects in somber song, reticent amidst the hallow, lest the haste-dug hole and living soul, should be heard and uncovered).
Now, the crickets incited to storm, bewitch the west woods with dusk-break melody,
And it was a wicked chord.
So sweet was it when I realized again
why I came to this land,
this place of great obscurity and obviation;
where trains be that which lie between
myself, and some hope at winning my peers esteem,
which would anyway be
a last-ditch effort indeed, but in-truth this does not plague me, for
as good a friend to me is lucubration,
laggard and lonely,
so too if words be my kin, and solitude befriend,
If this be so, safe to suppose,
I’ll always win.
Alas, I’m all out of parlor tricks,
I can’t please this man.
Of those proverbial barrows and that upon which so much has been said to depend,
I’d just rather let him win, let them all feel avenged,
and listen to some dribble droned at snail’s-pace yet again. Because,
while he is a brilliant cad, the rest are really just some spittle upon the gamut,
somewhere between insufferable mediocrity and just plain bad.
But there are two of whom I say
this is fain to befalse, two in this abaddon,
only two who stand across the pond,
polar anon, to the brownnosers with their sycophantic saccrine comments, oh so different
in the mind and margins.
From them we are so diversiloquent, divagations from dysthymic docents and dizzards.
Be this then, my threnody for the rest of them, a hymn
to all those who were lost to cricketry.
And also be this a carmen triumphale to the other antipodes,
my ode to L.H., to L.G., and to the melancholy
notion that only two can join me in this ocean,
the last to find themselves
in truth aligned with muse more than docity
and from our far-off stances
we face the class and examine
just precisely how long has lapsed the hour
since last someone rose from their cower, and spoke more than this choral echolalia.
Or give us then, some cricket’s cantation, but at least sing with conviction
or speak from inspired provocation,
rather than the mere will
to perchance your own voice hear,
(this, their self-gratifying vocation), and though they speak at length they are little
in the way of worth by a few minutes astage,
and when they’ve finished, my ears by sheer trill depreciated, and worse yet to be, the part when
the chorus lauds and agrees, just because they dare not
a Thespis be.
For like the crickets and their sour song of exoskeletons –
the bones worn on the outside so more efficiently they may
orchestrate their means of abuse, without the fear
of pulpy folds and downy-blush getting in the way of their rampage,
for when you’re all mouth and no ears,
who’s to say you shouldn’t siren-sound, to the rocks they’ll send with that noxious hymn,
that cricket song that I know from home.
Back in Texas, it’s the tell-tale of a plague.
O fellow pupil,
my absence festers in me like the fetid puss
weeping from necrosis,
and long to rot have I in chair, a fate to which but two alters dare
to my durance share.
What oracle or gypsy palmester had the power,
with smoke and seer’s orb
or by tea-leaf-tell, in saunter swill, sink and warn,
what god or don or forbodance anon
could have predicted it? Who could’ve peered thus through
this empty agape
to see nigh and near the morrow’s landscape,
and even if such forces belied to see
some falsity
finding felicitous the academy
and thereby lured to testimony,
The specter of the heather veils my gander
But in the insect’s witless clamor,
I am privy to sight, so too would be,
fain to see
the craven enclave, exile alleviated the insects
and lamentations satiated the intellects, for whom this elegy be,
we are round in riotous ocean turn,
always it would capture me in tow,
like flotsam ought, aloft I am tossed
to native land of brutes and repression,
though in respite alas it is slight,
but the antipodes do what they can.
On moribund ground in firm-mind stand,
here the cricket chorus is gone.
Thus the cavity is deafening, announcing the sound has by an ocean-passing,
drawn now to nighest it is lacking, the amplitude lost over ocean brume,
and in seat I am struck
all is a lucid buzzing silence,
a hissing in the wake of great calamity,
and so much so, all one can think on
is the deafening tacity
the plaguing awareness that the noise is gone,
and this is the loudest sound
of all.
Louder than the crickets cantor over half the earth,
afar, anon. For sadly the truth stands to be, that from the chorus come, I have found a greater calamity.
The absence of the chorus song is a presence ever louder
Than when the cricket song be-sung,
and I am growing deaf by it.
It is a hellishly mute incantation
no-noise rings
in middle ear with a wet metallic resonance, jostled noise
that resounds of copper
till nearly you taste blood,
like the tambourine twinge of tandem pocket dance,
the sound of loose change.
The absence of their chorus-facileness, a fluent fleece and recitation, I’d grown so adjust to hear,
That seductive say-nothing speech, the crickets swindle-song sung in
a lip’s-lock accord
with nothing more
than the merest trivialities,
nothing but vain self-service – this is their tired song,
and be it gone, there is an absence that makes great presence;
the weight of the time
wherein one is still fresh-from-throes of some great oppressive woe,
and left is but the sound of sustention in solitude,
a comatose barren tundra of self and sophistry,
and I hear but the buzzing goneness of such pain,
when one day you are paused-in-present awe
of a delirious wandering second
wherein you can only but marvel at the lack of this weight,
and so light will the world feel, dazzled and bedazed,
you meander the lunacy of the meadows
by and long there you’d studied,
but awry the divine-forgotten place
now feels in the light of some delay,
though the chorus is close afoot.
Soon a pilgrimage to this territory
they will wage, they shall come to me, in vanity
wild to prey
upon the sanity and resolve of their counterparts,
a cannibalistic barbary
ritualistically pursued with choral reverie
for to they, it is well known and true,
all that’s sacred should be chewed
and stewed till no marrow may be leeched from porous prose –
some of us still have flesh and bones –
but the crickets forget
that they sing the hymns of insects, they pay no mind
to their irrevocable effect, upon the feeble flesh
of breathe and blood and debt and regret,
the insects so easily forget,
the sound of one in flesh,
one in anonymity so oppressed, yet in-heart rings
a voice of the blasphemous opposite,
in a choir where choral shall be requisite
and insect most easily makes itself distinct from flesh and soul
blood and bone vulnerable – a biped
by the wars left the wayside, all the days Machiavelli cried, and the ill sight, flesh befallen
to untimely taciturn, unpardoned
and from fear alone, banally lauded
all that has been tandem chanted, and forward upon the path by others laid, the monotone of narrow and linear, the flesh forced to tread,
and pose no further opposition
to that which in-future shall be by cricket sung-and-said.
From fear alone, the flesh of one to the rest stands betrothed,
And for truth she is happy to have wed,
But shrew be she, once the great wolf’s head,
In the cricket’s choir, from anonymity , monotony,
The orchestra cannot sate her longing,
The lark-song and lyre of muse ever-calling.
But the heather has no place for outlaw, brigand –
And no place for head but of the collective, so with her portion of the head,
She sings without melody, and she in muted harmony lies


Erin Wheeler
November 11th, 2009