Veronica's Garden

I originally started this blog to promote my novel, Post Rock Limestone Caryatids. Now I write essays and poetry about everything, including the Flint Hills, healing, parenting, etc. WARNING: emotional content, sometimes intense. Read at own risk of feeling.

Tag: music

The Fabric Disintegrates

Do you ever have a moment
when suddenly you wonder
if all these things you do
are really far less than
you thought. Not that you thought
you were competent,
but maybe you could be of use,
could play some chords that would help
people sing together,
could write a poem
that might help someone feel.
But what if even that is delusion?
The accompaniment detracts from the song.
The poem is a slag heap of broken words.
It’s possible that
those who don’t believe in you are right,
and you are blind and misguided.
But some people like what I do,
you think, they told me.
What if, those times,
the kind gesture revealed
not who you are, but who they are?
It would be kinder in return
not to put them in that position.
Just focus on behaving appropriately,
presenting yourself well:
already more challenge,
after all, than you can expect
to master. We knew that.
You’d thought you could put together
a unique outfit that actually works,
from these thrift-store finds,
dollar store clearance items,
the antique silk scarf
inherited from your mother,
its colors still brilliant
even as the fabric disintegrates.
What you took for creativity
was only poverty. No one
is inspired by your clumsy pretensions.
You should spend a little more money
and try to blend in. Speak less.
Try harder. Show respect
for their standards. People like that.
It helps them know where they belong.

Our Song

Forever ago I dated a boyman who was a huge fan of U2. It was in the 80s, before they sold out. We bonded over our mutual depression, which I guess I thought was daringly honest. We listened to U2’s album War together many times. We loved “Bad,” and sometimes I would say it was our song. He would say it couldn’t be our song because it was too depressing and he’d heard it was about a girl who was addicted to heroin. I didn’t see why that was a reason, and to this day that song reminds me of him, thirty years after I couldn’t continue to live in the cage that was his world, and broke up with him. Thirty years after he finally succeeded in killing himself.

When I think about it now, it seems more than ever like the perfect song for the relationship we had. If I could, through myself, set your spirit free, I’d lead your heart away, see you break, break away, into the light . . .


This week I saw a video of Bono and The Edge playing in a subway station in Berlin. And I could totally see that nineteen-year-old boyman loving that coat Bono is wearing. He actually wore his hair kind of like Bono’s in this video. And I’d never heard the song they’re singing, but the chorus is Get out of your own way . . . nothing’s stopping you except what’s inside. I could help you but it’s your fight. And oh my. It’s so what Richard needed to hear. I may have said something like that to him back then, who knows, but not with the conviction of having lived half a century and solved problems and lived through failures and gone on.  But if Bono had said those words then, maybe Richard would’ve listened.

Anyway, I don’t really think U2 ever sold out. I’m not looking for reasons to judge anyone anymore. They did what they did for reasons that are not mine. I admire the longevity of their career and their commitment to helping people in need, and they’re still around and writing new songs that can move me.

Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips Cover Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds

He said, Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips,
it’s so weird, I don’t get it.
He said, is it just the drug thing?
She said, yeah.

She said, I’m having a flashback right now.
She sat back to enjoy the ride.
Any moment, there would be an
explosion of sound, even as
the surface of the pond was still,
smooth as glass, as a mirror.
The sun was setting in front
of the windshield, like watching
a show on a screen. Through
a screen, through the windscreen.
He said he’d played this song
for her before. She didn’t remember it.
It was familiar and new at the same time.
Deer foraging at the edge of the woods.
Behind her, voices, children singing.

When they got out of the car,
they all danced.

Driving Into Sunset

Experimental Noise-Rock and the Writer

I probably spend too much time reading about writing. I don’t even want to hash over all the blogs I’ve read with tips and advice about the importance of satisfying the reader’s expectations, what readers of various genres want to read, what words never to use, what editors say behind the backs of authors who refuse to follow the rules. I thought this one by Will Weisser was going to be more of the same. But, it surprised me. His essential point is that it’s more important to write whatever we write well, than to begin with original ideas, because, in their hearts, most people want familiarity more than originality. So put a little originality into your writing, but not too much.

This went a long way to explaining for me why people are so obsessed with genre. I had previously guessed it was mostly a marketing ploy to benefit publishers. But the familiarity angle gives me an insight into why readers go along with it. Personally, the more genre-specific a work appears to be, the less appealing I find it, the less likely I would be to purchase it. I like to be surprised. I like weird things that are impossible to categorize, that require the reader to redraw the lines and boundaries that define our thinking. And, even as I read the post, I was thinking, well, that’s probably useful for some people, but I’m going to continue writing what I want to write, with total disregard for what readers want, and no particular effort to be either original or conventional. Everybody can take it or leave it. Truly, that’s probably the best way to get to what I myself would like to read.

Then Weisser did something that I appreciated. He acknowledged that his advice isn’t necessarily for everyone.

“Please don’t interpret this article as me encouraging people to defy their own artistic sensibilities for the sake of sales. If your ideas have rarely or never been done before and that’s the book you want to write, then go for it. But you can still be aware of humanity’s propensity for familiarity and use that to understand your audience: you’re aiming for the experimental noise-rock listeners, not the people that listen to Justin Bieber. On one hand, there’s a lot less of the former than the latter, but on the other, if you can find those core fans and really speak to what they crave, you may find yourself with a truly devoted fanbase. After all, there’s so little out there for a true novelty-seeker to enjoy.”

Did I mention that my husband plays in an experimental noise-rock band? (Well, I don’t know that they would call themselves that, they’re kind of hard to categorize.) Frontier will be playing at South By Southwest in Austin this week, and on Saturday at Valley of the Vapors festival in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Here’s a little noise to up the weird factor for your day.


Update: Here’s a mellower one for evening listening. Note the hands-off-the-instruments style.

Frontier at SXSW

Cupid’s Arrows at 350 Meters/second

They twinkled about him, tiny droplets of a cool spring rain; they washed over him, crushing the air from his lungs, a deep ocean wave– a towering rogue wave –portending disaster. They drove straight to his heart, each a sublime gift from Cupid, shot at 350 meters per second. He adored the golden locks cascading down her shoulders; her smile was a lighthouse on a stormy cliff; but what transfixed him, what obsessed him, what drove him insensate to dive to her feet and profess his desire to die caressing her delicate ankles with his lips, was that sound, those notes, the notes from the piano.

100WCGU (7)

Thanks to Julia’s Place for the prompt. See the blog to read other interpretations of the theme, and why not join in the fun?

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