I sometimes feel like a muttering idiot. I cannot much tell the difference between what I am saying, doing, and what is typically called madness. There are days the difficulty is so big I can’t even form the questions.
What does Kansas City have to do with pilgrimage, I mean. This is a ridiculous thing, and imperative.
And why should I be so upset, so irritated, by questions of god and spirit? Forget what other people or traditions mean when they use the words; what matters to me, what is it that pushes, why do I find myself drawn to artists and blackbirds? What happens to me when I write? or when I don’t and feel sick? or when I make myself sweat in a yoga practice? There must be a word for it. There is a reality to it, though it’s elusive as hell.
I cannot, for the life of me, shake this suspicion of heart and self and wild interiority, conscious and unconscious both. I can’t but keep returning to poetry. If there is no spirit, no soul, than what the hell is it I’m so shaken by? What the hell is it I’m talking about?
Why should a landscape affect me so physically, I mean? What is it about a tree, or a cliff, or the brained ocean? What is it about human beings that makes me so stubbornly love?
I have written (by which I mean these moony, half sensical scribblings) since I was a baby. There, again, what do I mean by baby? A baby can’t write.
But I don’t remember a point when I didn’t. I ‘wrote’ stories in my picture books before I could read. Pausing for page turnings. Droning on as long as the sentences seemed. Making it up. I told stories to the family pets and, once she was born, my sister. I spoke to trees and the sky, and the corner of my bedroom. I was writing stories in the full, technical sense of writing things down, before I went to kindergarden.
I wondered, today, who or what it is I’m addressing.
If not god?
What it is I’m living for, if not the sudden surprise of beauty or the vein of pity inside even the most rank nihilism? Why should we be alive – why I should be alive – if not for the pulpy and mysterious heart?
What is a heart, anyway?
Kansas City is no place to reach enlightenment, I think. This is especially true if one happens to be arriving by a grayhound bus, because grayhound buses don’t travel the places known for broadly lit avenues and beds of hot culture or subtle architecture. Buses come in the back, across traintracks and empty warehouses, strings of dilapidated concrete and soiled earth. There are fried chicken joints, faded billboards, and broken down cars. As if even the messages we were supposed to believe, things we were supposed to buy, failed so miserably no one even bothered to take the advertising down.
As people wear crosses or say ‘oh, god’ without really knowing why or what it is they’re saying.