I was born about 8:00 p.m. on July 4, 1948, into a little-educated, hard-working, just-above-poor family whose only deep and abiding passion was love. Love was as free as wild muscadines from the hills or poke salad growing along the roadside; but unlike those treats, love knew no season and was always abundantly available – it was the one staple on which I was raised and still hunger for.
I piddled my way through high school, partied myself out of the opportunity to obtain a college degree, then followed the family path into construction. I was one of those people who would cheerfully expend maximum effort into grueling manual labor but would not make myself sit down and study for a chemistry test. Oh well, as Kurt Vonnegut said in a novel, “Hi-Ho!”
There was a period of several decades when I hardly wrote anything. I guess because my younger self felt that to be a writer, you had to earn a living with your words; and since that didn’t seem to be in the cards for me, I stowed my dozens of notebooks filled with youthful thoughts into a musty cardboard box – a notebook coffin – and put them away. However, now that I’m this older self, I clearly see that being a writer is much less complex than my youthful ideal of it. We are all writers, whether the words are etched on our spirits or on our tablets.
Nevermore, Once Again
by Charles Jones
Recently, I had a dream in which I had an encounter with the famous (infamous?) “Nevermore” raven that inspired the dark yet enduring poem “The Raven.” written (or transcribed?) by Edgar Allen Poe. In my dream, the raven was not perched on a bust of Pallas, the goddess of wisdom, but was instead perched on the shoulder of a busty, unidentified but verifiable flesh and blood goddess, as we mortal men are prone to see such things.
adjusted his stance on the nameless lady’s shoulders and said,
with a hint of pent-up frustration – “The god damn man
couldn’t just didn’t know how to have a conversation. Always
with the questions! Wanting to know if he would one day be
reunited with Lenore. Well, Lenore was dead as a doornail for
Crissakes! What was I supposed to tell this sentimental
schmuck? So to spare feelings and, at the same time, not tell
the man a bald-faced lie, I decided to finesse the situation.
I just went with a
one-word pat answer for everything. One that I knew answered
nothing, but at the same time, allowed the one hearing the
proclamation to believe that he was being given a clue to
something deep, dark and mysterious. And it worked like a
charm. I’m pretty good at shit like that.”
Nevermore fluttered his wings and said, “Oh no! Don’t be silly. I was saying ‘carry on’. Just a friendly good-bye to you. You know, ‘Carry on’! Now you be careful on your way out of here. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the path out of a dream. Some people get in so deeply they nevermore find the world from which they embarked. So you carry on. And don’t let your imagination fall prey to an unkindness of scavenging beasts.”