Letter from a Stranger
for Thomas James
Who emptied your wine on cold winter day?
Jason in the garden one fog-smeared morn?
Perhaps the broken sirens of mongrels
Shaken into madness did seal your fate
While colors of innocence dripped decay.
The world masked you in anemic thistle’s
Trapped reflections—final turn of the screw.
Your body holding shape, genius intact,
Out of your mind, thoughts of darkness would pour.
In painted box a precious object shut.
An hour, a day, a January more
Inside you I have lived in keen darkness
Feeling the slow slug crawl through gray matter.
It is a stranger who has poured your flask,
But lonely stranger to You I am not.
As writers, it seems we tend to enjoy a certain amount of invisibility. Whether it is intentional or not, it is very much a part of most writers' lives. We write to strangers. Of course there are hurdles one must leap in order to get work to those strangers--sending submissions to publishers, figuring out how to create and develop a blog, or finding an open mike venue in which one can share his or her work with a group of strangers adds a dimension to the game that new authors do not usually think about. In the end, however, it's all about strangers, the unseen masses who look for a personal link to the author's psyche.
Strangers are the people who read our writing. Strangers are the people that give us a reason to write. However, strangers can also be the people who can make us no longer want to write. Strangers can make us want to take our own lives.
At the top, I dedicated a poem I wrote to Thomas James,who wrote a compilation of poems entitled Letters to a Stranger.
The stranger who was ultimately responsible for his early demise by cranial ventilation with a .45 cal. was a critic, one who referred to James as a "pale Plath."
We write, not knowing who will read it, how it will be received, and how we will indeed receive news of its reception. For me, that's part of the joy and mystery to writing. When people read my writing I want them to have feelings, either good or bad, about what they read. If they hate it, I want to see words of hate. If they love it, I want a sonnet written showing me their love. Show me your words, but please don't show me your faces. Let's keep these, letters between strangers.