Fool’s Prayer

(19-23 December 1994) after Edward R. Sill

Sophomoric dreams and idealistic pleasures we used to think weren’t merely indulgent guided our thoughts about the future—which is gone now. We can’t put it off forever. We’ll have to look back and explain. This was a generation it would be interesting to have an adjective to describe— my generation, Bohemians from the seventies, artists and poets, drunk on cheap wine and belief in each other. When we finished our preparations, we would start a movement and change the world, which would not be a goal to give up easily but would decay, like success, into a series of less radioactive substances. Whatever we pride ourselves in, pride precedes, or precedes pride. For me, my writing— my comfort, conscience, companion, consciousness. Take a look at that! Just can’t be done. I question the nature of this solipsistic, altruistic art, whether it can be done for others, which could be why mine isn’t in all the stores, or whether it can be done only for oneself. This choice defines the act— authentic to what purpose? Anything else isn’t the art. It’s more like the birds than the birdseed. Sparrows and finches chatter at my porch and scatter the seed. But poems are not consumed. We cannot touch them. They are petty little gods with or without feathers. I have devoted myself, a priest of bondage to the ineffable—its hand, its mouth—to train these little lives and try to set them free. I have tried to capture wild things, a dream, and have only these tame substitutes, which cannot fly on their own, so I mother them in little warm covers on the cleanest of sheets, idealistic pleasures and sophomoric indulgences, to guide my thoughts and true my heart.