While I adore poetry and enjoy writing verse, I don’t fancy myself a poet. However, there are moments when I feel I’ve actually written something worthwhile, or at least good enough to share.
One of my favorite short story writers is Ernest Hemingway. He’s probably more famous for his novels, but I’ve found that his short stories are more to my liking. Oftentimes, I sit quietly after finishing one of them so I can let it sink in, contemplate the theme, explore the nuance. There aren’t many writers who affect me that way.
Despite his fame and fortune, Hemingway had issues. Alcoholism, a temper, and later in life, severe depression. All that, in turn, took a toll on his writing and led to the end of his career, and his life.
About twenty years ago I was on a Hemingway kick, reading just about everything he wrote and everything that had been written about him. I tend to do that with writers that I admire or who inspire me. After immersing myself in his work, I found I was inspired to write something. Here’s what I ended up with…
Papa said goodbye there,
in the hallway, near the front door.
His body prone on the floor like a discarded book,
the pages now blank. The words
splattered against the wall with all the viscosity of gray matter.
He probably felt like a book of blank pages,
The words were no longer there, either
Deadened by pills,
Or drown in alcohol,
Or burned out by the electro shock.
So instead of dwelling on once was, he decided to bring
the story to a close
On a fine summer day, on the outskirts of Ketchum.
And standing in that doorway, if only in a dream, I can hear
a church bell ringing in the distance.
Not necessarily the happiest of poems, but it encapsulates what I imagine he was feeling when the words wouldn’t come. And in a way, this is my tribute to a writer who, despite his faults, wrote amazing, timeless stories and inspired generations of writers.