When my old Winthrop professor Dr. Eells tented his fingers and intoned Shakespeare’s “Brevity is the soul of wit,” I took it to heart. (Never mind the irony of Polonius.) Indeed, I began my career as a writer of greeting cards, with lyric poetry on the side–the very definition, in two ways, of trying to pack maximum meaning into minimum words. However, neither Shakespeare nor Professor Eells anticipated Twitter.
By this time in the history of digital communications, I qualify as a dinosaur. At some point, my best correspondent and I abandoned snail mail for email. Gone was the pleasure of receiving thoughtful, personal, inspiring, usually funny, and often lengthy screeds in the mailbox. Gone was the benefit to posterity of countless letters saved in dated paper files. Gone was the reward of real conversation, albeit at a distance, where two friends had the leisure to listen to each other through the medium of the written word. Now we regularly exchange emails, which have some of the characteristics of our former conversation: thoughtful, funny, mutually inspiring. But in most cases, these excellent discussions disappear into the permanent, but as far as I know, inaccessible void of the digital universe. That’s a terrible loss.
Now, with family and friends, I’m up to speed on texting. Messaging is very helpful in coordinating coffee dates, quipping about the latest social shock, and enjoying photos of the kids. But clearly texting is not suitable for philosophical ramblings. For one thing, I still haven’t learned to use my thumbs, and for another thing, those “suggested words” often produce hilarious accidents. Texts are for information, not thoughts.
I draw the line at Twitter. I don’t have an account. Don’t try to persuade me. If you want to “follow” me, come back here. It’s all right that so far, my “fans” are few. They are loyal and true. At least I have established a location where, to the extent anything on the internet spins into the future, I will have set down some actual thoughts.
My next poetry collection, titled WINDSHIFT, is currently in the works from Kelsay Books. Sometime in 2018, I’ll give you a heads-up. All the poems are short. All the thoughts are as deep as a lifetime. Many of the poems are delivered with the sense of humor which helps us all survive. I’m dedicating this book to Dr. Eells. Somewhere between Twitter and War and Peace, I’ve found my place, thanks to him.
Here’s a poem from way back, unpublished. Notable for brevity at least.
LOOK OUT, GIRL
waving around loaded memories like that
and first thing you know
you’ve shot yourself
in the heart.