[undated, following page dated 4/29/70, preceding a page dated 5/7/70]
sanity is a venereal disease, it
infects one, brings on fever,
makes coping a hardship
Must be the city does it to us.
Why else would we retreat so far
into the fantasies
of our own realities?
That piece of turf unbreached,
The internal environment of
our own imaginations
all we have left unviolate.
What a bunch of shit.
what is honesty?
then flogging yourself
because the admissions are part
of the stance you take and as false
as not admitting them
I loved my father. Yet, I can't escape the feeling that he failed. His life was marked by failure. Humor also. A great belly laugh, and a tearing smile of laughter that would melt your heart. I think of the picture I have of him standing outside the back door of our old house, grey beard and slits for eyes.
He was a man of such great potential... always potential. He wrote some good poetry, at least in my eyes, but it never went anywhere. My mother tells how he would suffer profound depression upon receiving a rejection letter from one publisher or another, sometimes forcing him into writer's block for weeks. He wrote plays and novels. I can only imagine how much is lost.
I've been compiling his writings, what I can find in our things, on a blog dedicated to him. It's an odd experience in my late 30s to be typing up his words from his late 30s. I live in the shadow of a fear, that my life will follow his. In some ways, that wouldn't be so bad. To have raised some wonderful children, to be able yet to laugh with abandon in my 60s. That would be quite something to accomplish. Yet, his failure is to me inescapable. Indeed, I think he'd be the first to admit it. He never lived up to his potential. He never accomplished half the things he set out to, for which he had such ability to achieve.
And I see myself, looking in his mirror, him seeing his father before him, and I watching the reflection like a voyeur, pretending not to look, yet wondering whose reflection it is I see.
He was so proud of me, the graduate student, in his eyes achieving so much he dreamed of. He died three months before I finished the dissertation, a month to the day before my second son was born.
The year or so before he died, he started writing again, revising old poems, crafting new ones. He prepared an application for a poetry fellowship. He asked me to critique his poems, help him edit them. What an honor it was for me. Damn! I wanted so much for him to find some recognition, some acknowledgement for his gifts. Yes he failed. But I think the world failed him much more.
My greatest fear is to find myself, years from now, dying, with a massive trail of potential following me, like the greasy effluence of a leaking tanker, wondering why... why... why... damn it, why not?