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this could be considered a Holiday story, given that santa (or a somewhat dadaist version) plays prominently in this account. i wouldn't consider it so-ho, ho, ho-only on its face. a tribute to e.e. cummings, true, but only in part. beyond that, it is an explanation (not an apology, you'll note) of how my quirky writing style is the way it is.

?? questions of who we are where we come from why am i the way i life is a question mark.  i've wondered which of those unknown progenitors gave me my love of language, words, poetry, (music, too, since it was a language itself).

until recently, i had not known about cummings' christmas play, nor his familial turmoil. i had only known him as a poet taught in snippets from school textbooks. things come in their appointed time, however. as much as my rational mind tells me there is no fate, no karma or kismet that dangles our lives on invisible strings, some events in life just can't be explained or reasoned away...

when i met my birthmother a few years ago, she commented on the letters i had written before we met face-to-face. my handwriting is, if you'll excuse the expression, schizophrenic-i slip from cursive to print and back again. i capitalize when i want to, which isn't often, and when i'm forced to. i fragment phrases as if there is a running poetry anthology in my head.

she asked why i did it. i'd never thought about it, really. it just happened that way. i tried to explain: 'it's just what i do...[and then i speculated aloud] maybe because of e.e. cummings. her eyes (my eyes) blinked and she quietly said, 'your father was an english major...he liked cummings, too.' she told me little else about him, probably because she didn't know much herself...he made himself scarce when she told him she was pregnant. hm...i had majored in english, with a capital e...E, once...

as a student at harvard, e.e cummings began his break from his conservative upbringing. as so many artists of the time did, he traveled to europe...france, specifically. despite his short false imprisonment in a French detention camp, he would spend much of his time in i look at my small collection of miniature eiffels, i envision him smoking cigarettes with other expats, the iconic tower as his backdrop...

eventually he would father a child, nancy. she didn't know he existed, but he knew she did...years passed, and then he introduced himself to her as he painted her portrait. (oh, the gall-but i still wishfully think, for myself, i wouldn't mind) a child and grandchildren became a part of his life, and became the inspiration for what would be his most successful play, Santa Claus.

in the allegorical play, cummings gives a nod to his dadaist influences, as Death (science) and Santa (understanding) trade masks. according to richard s. kennedy, the play is a 'Christmas fantasy that represents his belief in the joys of love and giving and his rejection of the materialism and false expectation that he associated with "Science." In the end, Santa Claus without his mask is revealed to be a young man, who is then reunited with an adoring woman and a child whom he had lost.'

a poem from e.e.:

(and i imagine (XII)
(and i imagine
never mind Joe agreeably cheerfully remarked when
surrounded by fat stupid animals
the Jewess shrieked
the messiah tumbled successfully into the world
the animals continued eating. And i imagine she, and
heard them slobber and
in the darkness)
stood sharp angels with faces like Jim Europe
and one of my poems, circa early 90s:

as they puzzle/crossword, jigsaw, rubics cube
the philosophers
the guitar coming in
cherry glo underneath ash
rorshach test on your arm
in the mood--right
what is there?
who is there-there is now.
there is what you see
are you seeing things?
an encyclopedia of morals
so, maybe you think i'm lazy or disrespectful, leaving punctuation out of the conversation. i assure you i am's just what i prefer (no period-so final)

sources: modern american poetry
yes, wikipedia.
and here.
and just an interesting read: 'Is that a Poem? The Case for E.E. Cummings'

Originally posted to shesaid on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 05:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Personal Storytellers, DKOMA, Street Prophets , and Community Spotlight.

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