says I’m divine like
a banana split he can’t say
no to. When he calls my name
he shouts pomegranate and fake orgasms,
honeybees and dandelion pollen.
I ask him if he knows
I do my makeup in the reflection
of the TV, or that I once moved
to New York to lose fifteen pounds.
I ask if he knows I stopped writing poems
just to prove that I don’t feel anything.
He says no, but remembers the time
I kissed the sweat from his temples and
said it tasted like marshmallow cereal.
He says, nobody has ever told him
something like that before.
Later, when I ask him in leather seats
to go west with me,
and fireflies drop dead from my mouth,
he shakes his head, asks if I know about
the children there,
how they
finger – paint with rattlesnake blood —
how you can hear the clicking of their tails
echo against the window
on the nights you can’t sleep —

Paige Leland

Strangeness which is the essence of beauty is the essence of truth, and the essence of the world. I have often felt that; when the ascent of a long hill brought me to the summit of an undiscovered height in London; and I looked down on a new land.

Arthur Machen
The London Adventure

Edwige Fouvry - Et Paysage De Nuit

I’ve never willingly written a word without listening to music of some sort. Right now I’m listening to Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano. When pushed by deadlines I’ve sometimes been obliged to work in silence, on a train or plane or in a cafe. (A Walkman I don’t like, since its penetrating sound, piped directly into the cranial bones, is too aggressive and inescapable: booming aural earmuffs.)

Virgil Thomson, recognized my condition right away. There are two kinds of writers, he said. Those who demand absolute silence and those, like you, who need to hear music, the better to concentrate.

Perhaps he put his finger on the underlying psychological process, but I have never felt I was blocking out music the better to focus my thoughts. Admittedly I sometimes recognize that at a certain moment during the last 10 minutes I must have stopped paying attention to the music filling the room, but more often than not I experience music as a landscape unscrolling just outside the window whenever I look up, or as a human drama unfolding across the courtyard when I peek out, or as a separate but beloved presence, an intimate friend sitting in a matching chair, thinking and feeling. Music for me is a companion during the lonely (and why not admit it? the boring) hours of writing.

Music is also in stark contrast to writing. Music is already perfect, sure-footed, whereas I’m struggling to remember a word, frame a description, invent an action. If for me music is the secret sharer, it is a friend who has no needs and encourages me to trust that beauty can be achieved in this life, at least theoretically.

Music is always living out its own vivid, highly marked adventure, which is continuous and uninterrupted. It exists as a superior way of transcribing emotions, or rather of notating shifting balances, repeating motifs, accumulating tensions, deferred resolutions and elaborated variations. As the composer Roger Sessions once put it, music communicates in a marvellously vivid and exact way the dynamics and the abstract qualities of emotion, but any specific emotional content must be supplied from without, by the listening writer in this case.

Edmund White
Before a Rendezvous With the Muse, First Select the Music
New York Times, 18th June 2001