In storytelling, if you want to make a thing matter to your audience, you have to repeat the same events over and over again. This is why in Homer’s Iliad, at the beginning and at the end, fathers beg for mercy and pity, for their children to be released to them: Have pity, they say. … Continue reading Chew slowly. Taste but do not savor. —A communion prayer (1).
On days I drive it takes only thirty-four minutes to arrive from Whittier to Redondo Beach, but only because I leave very early in the morning, to beat traffic. Traffic gets bad at 5:12 AM, goes from crowded-but-fast to crowded-and-great-can-you-believe-it-now-Grandma-is-writing-a-check-for-her-groceries. The switchover is instantaneous. Grandma can’t find two forms of ID. She goes back to … Continue reading Some days I take the train to work. Some days I drive. Part II.
On days I take the train—the Metro Link Green Line in Los Angeles, from Norwalk to Redondo Beach—I park my car at the Norwalk station. The parking lot is big and quiet. It holds many cars. I arrive to the parking lot at 4:57 AM, park my car, walk to the ticket-selling machine, buy my … Continue reading Some days I take the train to work. Some days I drive. Part I.
My family are Latinos, which means that even though the invitation to the Mongolian Barbeque says 6:30 PM (just thirty minutes before our one-year-old usually goes off to sleep), they begin to show well after 7:15 PM, except us, except us, since a few weeks earlier we were eating at the Italian place, to wish … Continue reading Italian chefs from Egypt. The peoples of Ecuador. Mean, helpless old ladies. Mongolian Barbeque. Even so.
This one son of mine is very beautiful, and this other son of mine is also very beautiful. The one son talks, runs, argues, falls, cries, tells stories, asks to be wiped after he poops. Two days ago he came up behind me and hugged me and said, Dad, you smell like poop. I told … Continue reading My wife. My sons. And too much poop in the world.
Dante’s 14th century poem, The Divine Comedy, begins with a man “midway” through his life—and he’s walking down the road. In medieval Italy, in Florence (or, in Dante’s case at the time, just outside Florence), looking out his window, looking up at the stars every night, these hillsides and mountains provide him with just the … Continue reading The real stuff that is out there wanting to be known. You know. Poetry. Landscapes. Persons.
What does stillness have to do with the writing process? It turns out I own a collection of poems that, until very recently, I ignored. It cost me only fifty cents at a garage sale a few years ago, which is probably the only reason I bought it. I found it again last week while … Continue reading I pick up writing my novel again. I remind myself of what I wrote three years ago.