Joe Pan–The What that Is the Why & Why I Heart Ert

& what is this space for? How should I approach it? As a platform for speaking to potential readers? As a way to lay out my thoughts as they arrive (the last being “these syncopated occupations occupied by post-ink letters…posting clutters…thoughts as Occupied Moments in Sequence…the colonial manifest of memory…the future as crossbreeding possibilities, a synthesis of secrecies…the ungraspable ungettable present, how it is us & how that us evades us…how the present & I syrup through each others fingers…how best do I write that?…is that how I best write that?”).

Perhaps I will each day just tell you, dear delicious reader, what I’ve been thinking. As of now I am thinking that I am 35 years old, which means half my life is now finito. Fucking done. The men in my family tend to be early clocker-outers. I’ve been luckier than most, though. Happier than many. Traveled quite a deal. Met interesting people. Married for love. Created a small publishing house. Burned every candle I had on both ends. Wrote about things I’ve seen & things I’ve experienced but never fully truthfully in the way doorknobs are truthful to the experience of doorknobs. I write every day. Every day. Nine hours. Most of which is editing, staring, thinking. & yet I feel marginalized by the thing I love most, this writing, this lung-sucking work that undresses me, each day, in the hollows of my most hallow places, where I put little things on shelves & take them down & rework them & place them back up, each day. I feel vanished, mostly, when I think of my life in words, even though the most powerful moments of my life have come at the end of a sentence. Or the falling off of a poetic line. Some murmuring telephone wire downed by a passing storm you happen upon & stoop to touch thinking it’s just another tree branch & zap, petite eternity. I have few writer friends now; most that I’ve known have moved on or now protect their own lily pads with the same fierceness & meanness & scorn their predecessors protected their own lily pads with as these once youngsters swam about as terrifying tadpoles in tutelage. Grab it & growl, my father says. A few I’ve kept close still do the yeoman’s work, as L. Zacharias once said of me, in the corner of a story I turned in which I’m still not sure she liked. A few I keep the hours with, still, arguing aesthetics, honing our character if not our craft & whittling each other’s works to finer points of mutual enlightenment, if not art, or exhaustion.

So 1/2 a life lived as Joe Millar. The next, Joe Pan. I’ve decided to write & work myself down the drainhole. I’m sick of traveling. I’m tired of your parties, good Fridays! Goodbye Blue Mondays! I will write short fantastical stories to my brother in prison, who loves receiving my fantastical stories! I wish literature to go fuck itself with its own asshole! I’m tired of the cult of appeasement. I’m tired of trying to swim next to lily pads & grapple with their owners. I will try to write Hiccups, which are quick & if good stop the heart for a beat. I wrote a novel about meth-running in Florida, based on true-ish stories, & my own life, which rather than wait for a bottom-priced offer I may do better to publish myself. & many more like it. I caught hell for self-publishing my first book of poems. But you know who liked it, my wife. & Don DeLillo. & a woman who found it on Amazon.com for free, & wrote the most amazing review, which touched me more than the Y, the Academy, & the NPS. Back-patters each, thanks, but none takers, & so no readers. Readers, I write for you now, for your not-undiscoverable charmed ears, I imagine. For a trinket I’ll tell you a fortune. Not your own, necessarily. But a lively one. I invite your comments. I invite your criticism. Long live Ert, step-brother to Art! To Ert goes the forgotten fables, the fantasies, the failed attempts. To Ert I sing, e’er I err or ire I air as art. In the heart’s aerie I hear Ert. The heart of art I heart is heartless Ert; neither inert, heartless art or artless, but Ert, an art one hearts to artlessness.

I imagine now this is a public notebook. My Blue Book. Kafka meets Kelly. Keep up. My White Book, my cockatiel, my Cocteau, from cock to toe to cap & back. My loves. Take what you want & leave the rest to me.