Blackbird an online journal of literature and the arts Fall 2007  Vol. 6 No. 2


Chris Abani
Victoria Chang
Michael Chitwood
Keith Ekiss
Gibson Fay-LeBlanc
Beth Ann Fennelly
Raza Ali Hasan
James Hoch
Cyan James
Julia Johnson
Larry Levis
Khaled Mattawa
Timothy O’Keefe
Catherine Pierce
Jon Pineda
John Poch
Austin Segrest
Louie Skipper
Ron Smith
Robert Thomas
Joshua Weiner
Lesley Wheeler
Charles Wright


Advice to my Grandson
     for Russell Byrd Whistle Chad Smith

Remember the memorable and let the rest go.
Of course, some part of everything is memorable.
Savor the detail and the barbarous language
it insists on speaking. Befriend all words.
Never fail to eavesdrop on the exotic
or the eternal. Force conversation with
the transient. Brother, you can always
spare a dime.
                       Every now and then
empty what we are pleased to call
your mind. Let a cool wind blow through,
seal it with solitude, open it
to featureless horizons. Yes,
a Roman cistern or flat ocean
where no one, not even you,
exists. A long walk on an abandoned
railroad track can do the trick. It goes
without saying you must keep your mouth
shut and always go alone. Call it
meditation, if you like.
Never mindless entertainment, a form
of desperation, highly addictive.
Let all your entertainment be mindful.
Monitor cumulus crossing the blue,
now Australia to Iceland, now Rushmore
to Matterhorn. Study the sky a little each day.
And, yes, often at night, but ignoring
constellations, if you can, making your own
and sweeping them away like sand sculpture.
Better star and stark nothing than centaurs
and lyres.
                 Never take the image of a thing
for the thing, photo for face, landscape
for the land. Remember always that
perception is more than half creation,
the mind’s no projection screen, transforms
what it receives, shuffles what’s transformed,
makes of sunlight and synapse what the eye
has no rod, no cone to encounter.
That plain vision is visionary.
                                              “Too much
time on your hands” is the mantra of
the miserable. Shun such judges. Kill clichés
in their cradles. They grow to monsters.
Let others think outside the box they have
hammered for themselves. Build no box
to begin with. Know what everyone knows
is not knowledge but preference of belief,
no more the truth than the shade is the shade tree.
Observe how abstractions self-assemble
to frame and shingle what the frightened head
thinks it needs for shelter.
                                           Have faith in the truth
and its hermitage, its ghostly workshop.
Close your mind like a hand on the handle
of each handy fact, but never forget
an occupied hand can’t grasp the new.
Don’t wield too long nor grip too hard
what you take for truth. Be always prepared
to let it go. Let it go.
                                  Love, Big Ron

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