Immortal Monkey Writes Best-seller

The universe may be infinite, but good ideas are not, and it seems that we passed the last one some time ago. All Dax can write are sequels to something he’s already written. He has Sequel Syndrome, one of the side-effects of finishing a novel.

The other side-effect is a never-ending cycle of elation and self-disparagement. Part 1: I finished! Yeah! And it’s good! (Imagines himself discussing his book with Oprah.) Part 2: This is no good – I’m a terrible writer! What was I thinking? (Imagines rejection letter that begins: Dear Author of the worst book ever written…)

Everything has already been said. It’s just that everyone hasn’t said it yet. When that happens, we will know that the end is near. The world will end when every person on earth has written a novel about vampires. More


Let me explain.

I am an epileptic. That is a medical condition that causes seizures. You can look at my medical records if you don’t understand.

redpill2Medication? Yes, I know I’m supposed to take pills, but they makes me feel like a drooling idiot. For a writer, that’s not good. So I try to get by without it. I don’t have grand mal seizures, just the petit kind, where I just sort of zone out for a few minutes.

Usually I can tell when I’m about to have one. There’s a smell – sort of like almonds – that precedes it. It’s like the feeling you get when you’re on a roller coaster, climbing up, up. When I start to go over the top, the downward rush is terrifying, but welcome. More

More Rules to Ignore

Grammar is important. Dax would never advocate ignoring rules, but even he notices all sorts of new writing laws popping up. Is there a committee that votes on these? How can he get elected to this committee?

gears_Elsie_esqEven now, the cogs of this impressive grammar/style machine are turning. The Committee on Grammar and Style (COGS) is most likely scrutinizing this post and pointing out its errors to one another. They are enjoying themselves, he knows. He would too.

But (never begin a sentence with ‘but’ or ‘and’) he also knows that there is a difference between grammar and style. Maybe not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless (fragment). Grammatical errors are heard in everyday speech (passive voice), and can be used (more passive voice) to create a narrative voice or to make dialog realistic. Nobody says, “Go back from whence you came!” Characters need to should talk the way normal people talk. (Hmm. ‘need to’ vs. ‘should.’ There ought to be a rule about that.) More

Greek Class

This box of silent books troubles me.
Its sides are caved in, disappointed
by my worn out excuses.
If I bend the flaps open,
mustiness closes my nose
and I am in Greek class again.

You taught us Greek as if it were math;
every particle fit an order so crisp, so elegant
like lines of geometry, profoundly simple.
Real life never fit into those neat declensions,
but slipped between, untidy fallacies:
love, death, anger, time.

Honest words
I groped towards meaning
through the clutter of English
our language too soft, too dull
to reflect their many facets.
My mind, a sieve, tried to catch
small particles that orbited
around a larger meaning.

In later years words became mere tools
to pry apart life’s meaning.
But experience did not yield
like sentences we chalked on your board,
took apart, reconstructed, proved,
disproved by theorems of grammar.
What is the grammar of love?
How shall we construe death?
Where is the paradigm for despair?

Sitting on the desk you smoked cigarette
after cigarette lighting up every seven minutes
hands trembling from nicotine your body
no longer felt.  Inspired, we inhaled.
We had no choice — Greek and smoke
together, filtering meaning through haze.

You could not teach us poetry:
you were never a doer or a maker.
But as we sang the rising/falling accents of ancient words
Ancient music came to life, long-dead people
talking, arguing, loving, dying to that music.
English makes a science of these sounds:
they do not play on our ears
or dance on a stage.

But cigarettes and alcohol
and all the things you (being no poet)
could not do or make
broke your paradigm.
Like a Pythagorean discovering the impossible proof
You had to die, or change your religion.
You could not change, so you died.

I have kept my books:
Plato, Xenophon, Herodotus.
Like friends I have not written to in years
they needle my conscience,
draw my guilt like blood.
I open the box,
lift a volume out, feel
its weight, gently
turn fragile pages, run my eyes
over words that have faded.
That slow ache
is one more untidy detail.

The Fabulator

Whether it’s normal for children to lie is debatable. Most people believe the myth of the Innocent Child. Like the Noble Savage, the Innocent Child is not inclined to evil, but learns from his environment. He is a Blank Slate, upon which the truth shall be written.

But children don’t perceive reality as adults do. They believe in monsters in the closet, serpents under the bed, and fairies that leave quarters under the pillows of those who lose teeth. They don’t believe that the earth is a round ball flying through space, or that the past and the future are separate things. More

In Mind

homer poetThe rhapsodes of ancient Greece were not poets; they were rememberers. They recited the poems of Homer from memory, for an audience. It seems like an incredible feat. How could anyone remember so many lines of verse? The Odyssey has over 12,000 lines of dactylic hexameter; the Iliad contains nearly 16,000.

The poems were composed orally, before writing was common, and were preserved for centuries by the rhapsodes, one generation teaching it to the next. Think of the scene at the end of Fahrenheit 451, where people have become living books, and as they grow old, pass on their words to a new generation.

But it’s hard to imagine a world where you can’t just write down what you need to remember or look up what you’ve forgotten. More


SkyDancingShe began to disappear when she was fifteen.

How it began: her mother took her to Penney’s to buy school clothes.  Cally hated new clothes, especially ‘outfits,’ which were her mother’s idea of appropriate dress for school. While her mother lectured her about ‘presenting yourself’ to other people, who would then offer you jobs and college scholarships, Cally thought about being a hippy. Hippies did not care about careers and interviews and impressing other people. Hippies didn’t think poetry was a waste of time. More

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