Have you ever felt like an anomaly? like a sideshow people were looking at curiously, if sideways, but you couldn't figure out what could be interesting enough to garner the attention? When I wrote this piece, that's a bit how I was feeling, although I just chuckled at the oddity of it all. My friend and coworker in the clothing business invited me to a party and I accepted. That's when things got weird; I typically didn't do social events, but rather spent my time with my nose in a book, writing, or talking about whatever random bits of literature or life sparked some kind of synaptic response in my brain that week. But then people kept coming up to me asking, "Is it true? Are you going to the party?" I had a lot of responses bouncing around in my brain, but the shocked expression they wore shocked me into a numb, dumb response, "uh, yeah." The situation was singular enough to my experience that I decided to put Thomas in that position and wrote this piece as a result.
I remember having fun with this one, playing with the sounds. The subject, however, is not as playful. Thomas is a very reflective character, even more so than I. He has a hard time making peace with the past, and even wonders how honest we are with ourselves, how well can we trust our own memories. He wants a real, Greek type of knowledge of himself and the world, but doesn't trust that he wouldn't then drown himself in it. Most people would just say he thinks too much; but the un-examined life and all that jazz... What do you think?
Many of the Thomas poems were written after leaving graduate school when I could no longer afford the tuition. A bit lost in the world, I had a job at a popular clothing store and spent the rest of my time reading, writing, and drinking coffee. You'll see references to this job and this time period often in these poems.
One of the early Thomas pieces, this one was written about Thomas feeling a little low. He was trying hard to connect to a world disinterested in him. It all makes him wonder if there is something wrong with his internal construction. He thinks maybe he should be meaner, make himself more of an asshole, but it isn't in him; he can't do it. In the end, he's left studying semantics, both in the world and in his words. His only recourse is just to keep going.
If you would like to see more of the Thomas poems, click the Thomas tag at the end of this post.
This selection is from a series of poems based on, or about, a character named Thomas. I designed him as an alter ego of myself; think Henry in John Berryman’s Dream Songs. During the writing of the Thomas poems, you’ll see that sound comes up often. Within the poems, Thomas’ words are often referred to as songs: this is mostly because these poems, like most poems, should be read aloud. Consonance and assonance, spaces, line breaks (breath), a disjointed rhyme, all are important to how they are vocalized; even the feel of the words as they are formed and trip off the tongue. Many of them are loosely based on the sonnet form, the key word being loosely.
They may feel a little obscure at first, but if you read them aloud and give them a your full attention while accepting that within the ruminating nature of them there is a definite playfulness and mischievousness, you’ll soon find that they will stick with you.
In the end, I just want you to enjoy them and hope they resonate with you in some manner.