It seems time travel is to be the theme of my week. When I started packing, I told myself that I would take a tour of my favorite neighborhood haunts before relocating to the other side of town this upcoming weekend. Tonight, for example, I had made plans to check out an open mic night at my favorite bar. The theme for the poets and songwriters was time travel, and after the weekend I had spent hopping across the centuries, it seemed only fitting that I should check it out. More than that, I thought it would do me good to listen to the work of other local writers, hoping that they might inspire me in my own creative endeavors. After a long and busy Monday at work though, I was sorely tempted to stay in tonight. Even as I waited for my friend to come pick me up for the show, I found myself gazing at my fridge wanting nothing more than to stuff my face, change into my pajamas and give in to my exhaustion.
Once I arrived at the show, I knew I had made the right call in venturing out and there was one poet in particular who grabbed my attention straight away. His quiet voice and unassuming manner on stage stood in stark contrast to his remarkably tall, thin frame. The entire time he was on stage, he read as though he were speaking to a friend instead of a crowded room. He mentioned growing up gay and Catholic, how it had shaped his worldview and stayed with him even after he left the Church, a sentiment which resonated with me. I could pick out the religious allusions in his work and noted how he referred back to cathedral architecture in several of his metaphors, another commonality we seemed to share. Even as he spoke of past relationships, there was something spiritual about his words, and I wondered how often people mistake admiration and worship, obligation and love.
Other performers made their way to the stage and my thoughts wandered back to my apartment where my laptop sat, whirring and waiting for me. I came up with several topics for new poems to write during the rest of the show, but they were seeds of ideas that I knew would take time to gestate. So instead, I present you with the following piece that I wrote back in college, since it seems to fit our time travel theme for the week. I wrote this after studying the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh in one of my art history classes and reading some of the letters written between him and his brother, Theo, shortly before Vincent took his own life. It is a bitter tragedy to me how many of the great artists have been plagued by demons in their minds even as they have continued to give the world so much beauty and hope. There is a unique kinship among such artists and their audiences that simply defies the passage of time; it is a bond which has seen me through the darkest of times and which I continue to learn and draw inspiration from to this day.
My dear brother,
I should liked to have told you in my last letter
What was on my mind
And not prattled on about the works of Gauguin.
I should like to say more
Before I walk out into this lonely field of yellow
I told you once that, when I am searching for God
I will turn to my work,
But I fear I shall never capture the visions I see
Only in my dreams.
I love from a distance the figures that pass around,
Taking in the night air,
And study the sky as it turns above me in the dark.
The cafes are shady.
I should like to have seen you and your family again,
In the city of Paris,
That remarkable light show in the middle of it all,
But the crows call
And this metal weight grows cold and heavy in my
As regards my previous letter, please disregard the
Order for colours;
I find I no longer have any desire for them, nor need.