Brandon Shimoda
Winter Dwelling
fragments from a relationship                                        (page 5)
western Maine, 2010-2011

JANUARY 2. Today we walked out on the lake, the ice 8-inches thick (or so the locals say), thick enough to support the small parade of winter humanity. Whoever is left on the lake—whoever has not fled for somewhere in the illusory beyond—is starting to drag their ice-fishing sheds, so now we have a shantytown in the fog, with a small fire keeping us warm, and another book on Hiroshima, as I make my way through each and every, until all the words have gone ...

JANUARY 4. Right now, what I am doing is writing you before writing the first line of a poem called "Arsenic"—that's about all I know of it. I didn't write for an entire year, and the longer I went without it, the more scared I became. Now I am writing again. I left a party early on Christmas and spent the rest of the night with a notebook. I am not scared anymore. I feel liberated. I remember a conversation with you toward the end of our time in Montana in which I said that I had thought so much about what makes a "good" poem that I had become convinced I could never write one. I've forgotten all those thoughts I had, and instead of thinking about poetry, I am writing it and feeling joy.

JANUARY 5. Over the year you didn't write, what were you "scared" of? That you wouldn't write again? Something else? What did it mean not to write for that year? Was it intentional, or just how things happened? I'm happy to hear you ditched whatever fucking Christmas party you went to to write ... that makes me really happy. I don't know much more now than I did in those days—I never knew what the fuck was going on anyway, because it is such a diseased endeavor, for which faith is both crucial and problematic. I don't know, and I don't know what it is. What is it for you?

JANUARY 13. You've said a mouthful, brother. I am in 100% agreement, like-minded sadness and confusion—there is a very real sense that we're moving on, that we've already moved on, that poetry is an evolutionary process, for which change is the guiding principle, our inherent, bleeding desires to discover and uncover the earth of a different field—it makes no sense if not compelled by a flame that keeps us awake, some sound in the trees, down the creek, on the lake, calling us to call back. So much born out of that beckoning sound, as well as a simple desire to share enthusiasms, create a space where new ones entrance the old. There is something fundamentally ruinous about instating a system, however much that system is born out of love, is love itself. This is ... outside of writing, but … we should fade out ... there doesn't need to be another fucking poem … but one, one we can live with, that we can believe in, and so into tatters, back into the earth.

JANUARY 13. A reason why I'm feeling incoherent is that I'm not even really thinking about these things anymore ... I mean, as the world, or that part of the world, the part that does not inform my need to live, falls away, it falls away completely. I am forever in the process of paring things down to keep myself sane, to reap the available fertilizers of day, of living in such silence up here. I was reading some poems by Ryuichi Tamura (Japanese, dead), enjoying them, and in that enjoyment feeling insanely insignificant and alone.

JANUARY 17. I love that you up and left your life in Seattle—we are supposed to be "too old" for that, but of course we aren't. Were you happy at Wave? Was working so intensively with other people's writing conducive to your own? Did you stop writing, ever?

JANUARY 20. I spent the last three days in bed—not sick, just incapable of getting out, Lisa bringing me glasses of apple cider, bowls of noodles, while I watched 20 stand-up comedy specials on Netflix and wrote 200 pages of notes about comedy and poetry, formulating my latest plans as a poet: not writing poetry anymore, not reading it either. I'm slowly making sense of some thoughts about it, and still moving around in my head.

JANUARY 23. I'm telling you man, poems are drawing a physical reaction from me. I haven't read one in a week, and I glanced at one the other day, and felt repulsed and angry at once.

JANUARY 24. Wow yes on the reaction to poems, which in my case has merely been another branch of a grand dislocation, which I've been struggling with, in terms of trying to divert it—as a matter of fact I had been opening and rapidly closing The Pines file since you sent it, unable to find an entry, unable to face it comprehend or gather the energy to read more than a couple of lines, then one evening I opened it on a whim, out of boredom and with a tinge of guilt and found myself moving much more easily inside it, found myself open up to it, although this hasn’t translated back to my own writing. I'm having trouble approaching coherence, and at the same time having trouble chasing down the incoherence—although I think I'm going to have one day to abandon the fantasy that I have ever been coherent in any phase of life.

JANUARY 30. Or, maybe all of our extremities have gone dead, and what we're feeling is the freedom of living without them. My vision is of us floating above the lake in an amniotic sac, umbilici connecting us to a fire somewhere below the surface of the lake.

JANUARY 31. It’s going on three weeks since I’ve read or written a poem—not long, but a start—and out of a feeling that poetry is not actually to be found there—in poems—but in the tangibility of itself, poetry as tangible existence, not transcription of experience or thought. I no longer recognize what it is I'm looking at. What happens if I do nothing, Rob? I mean, what am I ... if I do nothing? That would be a feat, but I'm wondering where the boundaries are, if they've even begun to form?

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