The Hermit Poet

July 17, 2005


Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 3:04 am


This morning, the sun not yet piercing the gray Virginia world,
I wake already with longing for those who I soon will leave –
whose voices, raw and importuning, have peeled away
my skin and laid open my chest with the finest of cuts.
Here, in the space enclosed by the white bones of my ribs,
a heart beats with the wonder of so many tongues – no,
it moves like a ship on this dark ocean of home and departure.
Each of us rowing, beat after beat, page after page, haunted by words.
Speak again of salt, lovers lost, of the body muted, of our fathers,
mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. You who knock at the wooden
door of a guitar at midnight. You who let words carry your limbs
and lips. You who rumble deep into sorrow or anger or unrequited joy.
Tell me now, who will lift us when we are weary? Who will fill us
with the dark beauty of song? What will we say tomorrow,
when we rise to take our next train, next bus, next taxi, or plane? When we
return to the cities we have loved or despised for so long?
What will we say to the open door, to the room full of now?


July 7, 2005

Hermit in the Mountains

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 8:20 pm

I’ve just returned from a rather relaxing two week housesitting stint up on Mount Baldy, about 45 minutes away from Riverside. In many respects, the place really was a hermitage: wall to wall bookcases whose contents ranged the wide spectrum of poetry, literature, art, cuisine, anthropology, psychology, East Asian mythology, and miscellaneous other esoterica.

I was conveniently outside of cellphone range and limited to a dialup connection for internet use — but on the other hand I did have two dogs to feed, a pond full of trout, and a bear that was rumored to cross the property in the evenings.

Sadly, despite the myriad of fine literature and poetry to read, I must confess the bulk of my time was spent reading the complete Judge Dee mystery series set in Imperial China and written by Robert van Gulik, a rather remarkable Dutch official who spent most of his life absorbed in deep study of classical and popular Chinese literature.

And yes, I did get more work done on my manuscript — although it has certainly shrunk as opposed to grown in size. It was 83 pages and now numbers 50. However, I feel it is much stronger from the pruning.

A few pictures of the “hermitage”

Walls of Books
Books here.

Walls of Books
Books there.

Walls of Books
Books everywhere.

Trout Pond
View of the trout pond from the dining room window.

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