T for Tom

A Portrait of the Artist As a Lover

Posted in Prose by johnsontoms on July 21, 2012

He gets so angry with the way he’s saying things now.  As a writer, it kills him to see the words come out of his mouth, or rather, someone else’s – it doesn’t even feel like he’s saying these things.  Words like “desire,” “want,” and “time” fall together in the ruse of a modern sonnet, but without the tact or talent.  He even sat down to write a poem that went something like this:


“She doesn’t believe the words I say and I can’t really blame her.

The words I’ve said haven’t yet saved her and I want her to know

That when I say “I want you” it’s true.”


But he couldn’t finish the poem.  The fact that he was writing it to surprise her, for when she returns was really quite revolting.  He could see his friends now- “I remember when I used to write poetry for my girlfriends,” laughing with a sneer.  And it’s true.  What was he thinking?  Why couldn’t he focus on anything else?

It was all he wanted to do though, just because he means it.  Since no one really knows what they mean until they say it, he keeps putting these things down for her to read and hopefully understand.  But damn, it can be so embarrassing.  Embarrassing because poetry and flowers and songs and long walks in the park are the things of hallmark cards and even the films showing in the theaters are now using these displays of affection as fodder for the screen.  It’s no longer even “in the movies.”  No, in the movies they only have friends with benefits.  It may be why no marriage lasts.

Here he snickers, because he doesn’t watch films anymore.  If he did, they were probably in black in white, and, he says, “the man gets the woman.”  A love blossomed on screen once, and even fairytales are based in reality.

But what is that? he asks.  What are these things, these aphorisms and idealisms that spill forth like a tipped over kettle, the boiling water burning the feet and keeping the artist from walking on, moving forward and making sense of something that has no correlation to the real world he’s created for himself?  Why now can he no longer put his words into any succinct meaning, give no depth of color, paint no picture and sing no song larger than the pettiest of childhood whimsy, the verbs and nouns jumbled together dropped like a box of blocks that tumble down and onto the ground and never land in any grouped shape, just blotted there like a pile of corpses that no one wants to see.  These are the shapes that the words are taking on.

If the words were any more significant there wouldn’t be allusions to fairytales and realities and unfinished poems, there would be tenderness, heartbreak, and displays of emotion so great that the angels of the heavens would hear his scream.  But that is not the true way, he believes, that it happens.  No, it happens, you see, slowly and over time.  Two lovers do not immediately leave this world like Romeo and Juliet, no, they start by holding hands.  They sit and watch the clouds pass by, and they dance in the street.  In time these things grow to cause earthquakes but even the Mona Lisa was begun with a single stroke of the brush.

And that effort, that time, was the artist’s focus.  To see the forest for the trees, here, would be naïve.  This must be stared at focally at its inception and studied with microscopic precision at each interval.  First it starts, then it grows, and down the road it may be developed.  But, having nothing, not even the touch of her hand, still he writes-

“It all seems unfair, to be honest.  Why I can’t be there, why I can’t be with you, or even if I wanted, just to be free and cognizant of my own affairs.  There is a love of things, a love of ideas, and a love of a woman.

For the former, there is no hope.  Those souls who embellish their lives with only the physical possessions and pointless stories that blot their timelines will have no reprieve and likely the deathbed will be filled with regret.  Regret that no great thing was accomplished and that no love filled the gaps of promise.  We have only a short time to live, a few years to breathe air into our lungs and life into our bones, a few years to pack this world with the impact of our firecracker actions and watch it explode gleefully into the night with the image that we did something important.

For the ideas, there is at least hope.  There are the cogs and wheels and pins rolling in motion and the system is presently aware of its place within a constellation of businesses it can neither grasp nor change.  But with this revelation there can at least exist the foundation and exchange of original ideas, the ground-shaking genesis of anything that ever came to pass.  That we recognize our place, our abilities, and combine the two to make change.  But not every idea comes to pass, not every thought makes it to paper, and not every theory becomes practice.

And for that there is the love of a woman.  It may come and it may go, but the love within the man is always present, should he only find somewhere to direct his passion.  The lucky ones can find this early in life and provide it the fire of all their efforts, should great art and sacrifice be of no consequence to this man that he generates all the world’s beauty each time he says hello to his lover.  The world is luckier still when this same man loses then his lover, and provides for us the directed and passionate requiems for a romance thus ended.  It would be folly to exercise any belief that our great works of literature and art were not affected from the ghosts of women yore.  What it is about them a man will and may never know, but what he does know is the only truth that he needs – that when with them, and when holding their gaze, no other feeling matters.  It supersedes even God himself, and replaces the need for water to survive.  Only love.”

And then he slouches back in his chair, exhausted from trying to make sense of something that will never be put into the right words.  Greater men have tried before him and still the world is without a definition.  For every person the answer is different and he is no exception.

He can, however, laugh at the use of “thus” and “yore.”  It really is quite comical, in the end.

But he hopes there is no end.  Because the writing will get better in time.

It needs only its muse to continue.


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