Recovered Words

Last night, in the process of looking for the original wording of a poem I wrote more than fifteen years ago, I discovered a collection of unpublished work stored on an external hard drive. The poems, short stories, essays and short film scripts had been written on two old laptops—a Dell and a Gateway—and they remained unpublished for the simple reason they were unworthy of print. But as I fell into the Word doc rabbit hole, I came across a few items with potential.

One was a poor, unfinished essay with the opening sentence, “Sometimes I wish I could ‘green screen’ my life.” I played with the line spacing and edited the essay into a poem. It’s certainly not the poetry of Whitman, Dickinson, Mary Oliver or Billy Collins, but I am pleased to have revised the words into a finished piece—which is now saved on my current computer for future use.

Green room, green screen by Jared Tarbell via Wikimedia Commons.

Green Screen Poem

Sometimes I wish I could
“green screen” my life—
alter the circumstances,
change the background,
transport myself from
my furnished studio apartment
to a Northern California bungalow.
Employ artifice to shape existence.

But life is a reality show—
just without the scripted confrontations.
And there is no green screen
to fix the disparity between
what I am and what I hope to be.
We achieve our dreams,
continue striving toward them
or give up altogether.
Life provides no special effects
to bend reality to our liking.

©2020 Francis DiClemente

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An Assortment of Prose and Poetry

I haven’t had a chance to blog in a while, as I have been busy with video projects in my full-time job and a long-term writing project in my off-hours. But I wanted to point out that a couple of my stories have been published online. The first is an essay that was originally published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology; it’s now posted in the Life Tips section of Medium. You can read it here.

The second story is a fantasy flash fiction piece that was originally published in the magazine The Literary Hatchet. I recently received an email from the editor of Sub-saharan Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to publishing speculative fiction with an African flavor. It was a nice surprise, having someone from across the globe read something I had written and want to use it. The editor asked if he could re-publish the story and change the characters’ names to African names so the piece would be consistent with the magazine’s mission. I said sure and the story is now online. You can read it here.

Now switching gears, I would like to mention I’ve been reading some poems by Samuel Menashe (1925-2011).

Samuel Menashe

Samuel Menashe

He was a master of compact, precise poems that leave an impact; it seems Menashe never wasted a word or wrote more than was needed to produce the desired effect. I’ve been scanning through the website Poem Hunter to read some of his works. Here are a few I found memorable:

The Living End

Before long the end
Of the beginning
Begins to bend
To the beginning
Of the end you live
With some misgivings
About what you did.

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Rue

For what I did
And did not do
And do without
In my old age
Rue, not rage
Against that night
We go into,
Sets me straight
On what to do
Before I die—
Sit in the shade,
Look at the sky

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Here Now

Now and again
I am here now
And now is when
I’m here again

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I need to check out a Menashe book from the library to really probe his work; online skimming doesn’t do justice to a poet of his magnitude. Reading Menashe also brought back warm memories of when I discovered two of my all-time favorite poems—both great examples of brevity and wit. They are Langston Hughes’ Suicide’s Note and Dorothy Parker’s Resumé, and I think they resemble Menashe’s style.

Suicide’s Note

The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.

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Resumé

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

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That’s it for now. I hope to come back to the blog more frequently, but alas I make no promises. Happy reading and creating.

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