Quiet Desperation

Laugh and the words laugh with you

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 9/24/14

The news out of Florida this morning is horrific. I have to move away from it.

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Quiet Desperation

Laugh and the words laugh with you


The news out of Florida this morning is horrific. I have to move away from it.

I can do that in a number of ways. This is one of them: writing.

Others might meditate, pray, drink, smoke dope, walk, run, shop, eat, or schedule therapy.

Writing does it for me. Now if I were to write about what happened in Florida, I would be stuck in it. But I can write almost anything else, and my responsibilities in writing will take over.

I have been reading some quotes about writing: Charles Bukowski's, Mark Twain's. Vladimir Nabokov's.

Bukowski said, "You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge."

I came across Bukowski when everyone else does, when I was in college. At the time he was welcome, and he still is.

Each of us is an odd union of tens of thousands of things that we have seen, read, and felt. I sift constantly. What may have moved me in college might not now.

But some of those attachments are still attaching themselves.

Bukowski said, "We're all going to die, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn't. We are all terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing."

If you don't know him and decide to look him up, please know beforehand that his writing goes into a lot of dark corners.

If that is true, why mention him on a day when there is horrific news out of Florida? Maybe because I don't need to see daffodils to improve my day, or to re-read Psalm 27:4, or drink.

Bukowski, an alcoholic, said, "That's the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen."

If you have a writer in the family, or a friend who is a writer, encourage them.

It is constructive, and it is a way out. And it is a way on a day like this, when there is bad news coming out of Florida, to improve the day and to renew yourself, to upgrade your seat assignment.

Humor helps too. I have a sense of humor, although you wouldn't know it by reading the first 400 words. Humorists need mentors, plump ones. Mine were.

Some who were not include Lucille Ball. Not funny. I'll take Dorothy Parker.

Some who are not include Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, and Conan O'Brien. The writers of "Two and a Half Men" should not be millionaires. The show reminded me of a bowl of used toothpicks.

Give me Ogden Nash.

"I don't mind eels, except as meals, and the way they feels."

Bukowski had a face that looked like a large potato that had been left on the forest floor. When I met him, I was very self-conscious about my own appearance. It's quite amazing what bumps on your chin can do to your self-esteem, especially if there are more on your nose. And forehead.

I looked down back then, not up, and never into someone's eyes.

Now I will look directly at you. And in my mind, I am saying, "Let's talk."

Let's make sense together, or let's make nonsense together. Both require language skills. I appreciate someone with language skills even if I don't agree with them.

I also know that language skills can brainwash. Praise the Lord, and send me your Visa card number.

I am safely out of Florida now. I have had to look up words and to correctly quote Charles Bukowski, which took me back to a beige 1965 Volkswagen. Driving out in the middle of the night to pick up the LA Free Press, to find his column.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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