Anthony N. White - writer

My Little Black Notebook

In 2005 I became obsessed with what Jack Kerouac called “New American Pops” or non-syllabled haiku. Just like haiku, the American version that Kerouac played with is just a tiny snapshot of words that can quickly evoke a powerful emotion.

I knew I wanted to be a novelist but the amount of work it was going to take seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t think it could even start. So this was my solution. If you can write a story in just a few words that evokes powerful emotion then it should be easier when you have seventy-five thousand to do it.

At the time I was living in Watertown, New York and taking classes at SUNY Empire. That summer I worked at a restaurant near the library so I would leave for work early and spend some time in the library researching different Japanese Haiku Poets. I figured in order to break the rules you have to know them so I went back to the originators of the art and studied as much as I possibly could.

There in the basement of the Watertown Library I came across my favorite haiku. It was instantly my favorite and without a doubt had an immediate impact on me. I read it over and over again, sitting on the floor in between rows of books. I had gotten used to writing down the ones I liked the most in this little black notebook I carried with me and this one was no different. I scribbled it down and for months went back and read it over and over again.

About a year later I moved to Rochester, New York and stashed all my old writing in a box. I thought that someday it would be fun to go through it, maybe take note of how far my writing has come, or rehash old ideas that never made it passed the scribble stage. Sometime later, after my third or fourth move in Rochester, I decided to look through that box. There were so many memories in it, but not the little black notebook filled with haiku. I was disappointed but I figured that I just didn’t look hard enough, that it was probably stuck in the binder of another notebook.

Years went by. I could remember parts of my favorite haiku and occasionally I would google lines related to it. I couldn’t remember the author, but just new when translated it had the word “lichened” in it. I knew it was something about rain, a grave, and sadness. That was all that would come back to me. Google didn’t have the answer and whenever given the opportunity to look through books of Japanese Haiku I would, but I never found it. That little black notebook contained the answer and it had somehow vanished.

Year later still, I thought of that poem. Only this time there was a death in the family and we would be going to the same cemetery that my grandmother is buried. I needed that haiku. I dug the box out of the basement and went through it very carefully, examining each book and paging through them all. I took other boxes apart and looked through them. Nothing. The book was missing. I stood there in amazement and disbelief. How did I have all of my term papers from college, labeled and stored in hanging folders, but missing a notebook I spent months writing haiku in? “What a wasted summer,” I thought to myself.

Yesterday, I found it. I’ve been thinking about this book for about twelve years and I wasn’t looking for it at all and I found it. It dropped out of a newspaper article I was saving. I must have jammed the New York Times over it and it got caught up in there somehow. What’s more interesting is that the section of the Times I was saving was an obituary that Paul Westerberg wrote for Alex Chilton. Not only do I love both of those song writers, the day Alex Chilton died was the same day I started my punk band in Rochester, Pat Buchanan’s Hearse, or PBH. I saved that article for so many dear reasons it’s actually comical to find that it had been housing that notebook all these years. Chilton died in 2010.

Today I’m going to carry that notebook around all day. I just want to hold it. I genuinely missed it. Maybe in a different post I’ll share some of the haiku that I had started writing because of my studies. But for now, here’s the one that haunted me for almost fifteen years:

Winter rain deepens                                                                           

Lichened letters

On the grave…

And my old sadness

-Roka

Nothing Rhymes with Orange: A Poem

Nothing Rhymes with Orange

 

The Corn Hill streets are

Orange with leaves as

Orange sirens whizz by, the sound of

O R A N G E

Ringing in my ears, cigarette smoke rolls from the

Dark porch next door, an

Orange ember barking in October’s northern

Orange wind. Nothing rhymes with

Orange in the fall.

 

But it’s all around anyhow.

Old Man Woods

I found some old poems a few days ago in a folder I haven’t opened in years. Admittedly some of it was pretty cruddy, mostly just the frantic scrawls of a young man enamored with Jack Kerouac. But one poem grabbed my attention in particular and I remembered that it had been published, although now I can’t remember where. It’s a poem about an old man I used to bring soup to as a boy. He had a wonderful house on Lake Ontario and a little puppy and I could fish there off his docks and catch great big perch and rock bass. My grandmother owned a restaurant about a mile away in Henderson Harbor and she and my mother would ask me to deliver some soup for him on occasion. I grew fond of him as he seemed like a lonely dote.

He was a quiet, white haired old man that could reach petulant peaks in an instant and remain unfettered for a time after, a time that I usually retired to the front yard with the puppy to play a while or walk down to the shore into the eerie old boathouse and look around, hoping to find a lost archaic treasure.

I have no clue what happened to him, how long ago he died, or if he moved long before that. But sometime in college I remembered him, remembered his loneliness, remembered his house, and remembered, for right or wrong, a tiny scene that leaked out onto paper.

Old Man Woods

Crazy

Old man

Woody-

Kept

His

Dirty

Magazines

In the same

Cabinet

As his

Whiskey

So

He never

Had to

Go far

For

Pleasure.

 

“That

Gaddam

Vietnam War

Had me

Hooked

On opium

For

Years.

Now

I

Can’t think

For

Nothing.”

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.

baseball vs football

Baseball is Timeless

It’s playoff baseball season but you probably didn’t notice.  Maybe you saw a passing story line in the runner on the bottom of ESPN, a quick blurb that indicated that teams have been chosen.  But it’s difficult to notice baseball buried deep under the NFL’s teeming headlines, every injury report, every power ranking, arrest, comments, analysis, drama, and every single little side note taking precedent over all other sports.  The NFL is king of ratings and the talk around most water coolers every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday.

Each NFL fan tunes in on Sunday’s in fall and winter, a crucial time in advertising for the holiday season. If they sit for all 3 games on a Sunday, that’s about a 12 hour day.  Every NFL game contains around 100 commercials, according to The Wall Street Journal, accumulating around 75 minutes of air time per game.  The same NFL game will contain around 17 minutes of official review and only around 11 minutes of actual football game action on the field.  If you sit for 12 hours of games you will have watched over 300 commercials totaling almost 4 full hours.  You will have watched an hour of officials reviewing calls and about a half hour of actual football game action.  The other 7.5 hours leftover in those 12 will be spent watching teams huddle, referees line the ball up with chains and sticks, players milling around waiting for a call from the sidelines, and analysts discussing various players and strategies.

It’s playoff baseball season, but you probably didn’t notice.  Most NFL fans aren’t Baseball fans.  The game is too slow they say, not enough action they claim, not enough excitement, and the game is way too long.  The average NFL game is around 13 minutes longer on average than that of the average baseball game.  Baseball’s time of action rings in around 17 minutes compared to the NFL’s 13, and due to the nature of the game only stopping for inning changes, the average amount of commercials is around 50.

This doesn’t equate to baseball being more or less “exciting”.  The question is why is baseball considered boring and why isn’t the NFL?  Baseball has fewer collisions and less serious injury. Maybe the clear and present danger of a season ending injury looming over the head of an NFL athlete is enough to keep the viewer more engaged?  The NFL also has only a few games in comparison to baseball, and it could be argued that every NFL is extremely important, while in baseball not every game has the weight of the entire season.  But starting an NFL season 0-2 usually results in missing the playoffs. Why watch your team after week 2 if they probably will not make the playoffs? (NFL teams have a 10% chance of making the playoffs if they start the season 0-2)  Starting 0-3 makes it even less likely.  Could your season be over by the end of September?

The game of Football is very intense.  We are told that every play, every single down matters in a season because the season is short and tough.  Everyone plays at 100% all the time which means you have to be tough in will and endurance.  It is not a game for the weak and so its fans are just as intense, burning their eyes not to blink, not to miss a game, never to miss a play, to be there for their team; if the players must act like gladiators then so must its supporters.  The time clock in the corner of the screen forever reminding you that the game is short, like the season, and that it is imperative that you must win, you must conquer the opponent, give your body up for the glory of another “W”.  The season is ticking away.

So much of life runs on a clock.  There are always deadlines to meet, business hours, commute times, call times, wait times, conference calls, meetings and everything running on a time clock.  We count down the days to the weekend, to vacation, to our next big project and so on.  It makes the day nerve wracking, the weeks fly by, and the years seem like hours.  Baseball is a beautiful and graceful game played with no clock.  There is no time ticking down and away, no deadline to get the next point or score.  It’s just a game.  To watch its best men and women play is like watching ballet or an artist at work; you can see the years of practice, the time that it took to build their skill, their repertoire and you can lose yourself in it.  These things are priceless and timeless and it’s meant to be relaxing, not boring, it’s meant to be graceful, beautiful, artful.  Its nuances aren’t pointless, they’re poetry.  Baseball is meant to be enjoyed, at a summer’s pace, with your friends and family, at ease.

The argument that football is more exciting than baseball could just come down to aesthetics.  Maybe football is just inherently more exciting because of all the things previously stated and not just one being more important than the other.  Maybe the time of year, plus the inherent danger, plus the weight of the season, plus the overall showmanship of the camera angles and slow motion replay make the NFL seem more exciting.  Mathematically by the numbers it’s not.  Or maybe that’s too complex.  Maybe it’s just the time clock in the corner of the screen, pushing the viewer to stay tuned, keeping them on schedule, forcing suspense onto the viewer as the game, the season, and the day ticks away.

There shouldn’t be a comparison.  They are two different sports meant to be enjoyed differently.  Take away time and there is no comparison.

 

Playoff Baseball: A Poem

Everyone says,

“Baseball is boring”

“There’s not enough action”

“Too many people standing around

Looking awkwardly at each other and

Talking at the bases with the other team”.

“Where’s the blood and chronic traumatic encephalopathy”?

“Where’s the comparison to gladiators and war”?

“Baseball is too boring!”

But they’re wrong.

It’s not boring.

It’s timeless.

They should be asking themselves

“Why does a time clock add so much suspense?”

To hell with time!

Let’s go watch some playoff baseball, dude.

And just for once, forget time exists.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.

 

 

A Poem About Basil For My Wife

Poetry shouldn’t have to be so serious all the time.  Poems are a quick glimpse into a part of life that we have all lived, a moment in time that could be described to just about anyone from any culture or any language and they would understand.  Too often poetry is very serious tackling dire topics like death and love.  Sometimes poetry can be funny, goofy, lovable, or even slightly amusing.  It’s a pass at elevator conversation, a thirty second impression that can be pleasant and charming.

I wrote this one for my wife.   For ten years I’ve been writing little poems for her, then I leave them up on the computer or leave them on a piece of paper, or they get published somewhere and she happens on them.  And she knows they’re for her and she knows more about the poem than anyone else and it’s supposed to be amusing, fun, and charming.

 

About An Herb

Fresh basil after a rain tastes better.

Sure it does.

Have you ever been staring at your basil plant all day?

And it’s drooping and tired

And it looks sweaty

And you think,

‘Christ if we had some damn water and a breeze this thing’d be all right’

And then thick clouds roll up and the breeze kicks in and the trees start complaining all over the place

So you go inside, bemused.

But then you notice the damn basil kicked up.  And now it’s time for fucking pizza?

And there you are up against the wind, trimming away with kitchen shears at something you grew!

And it tastes so good.

Oh.

You just buy your basil at the grocery store?

Like, in that little plastic sheath?

Huh.  That’s cool, bro.

Never mind then.

 

(The photo was borrowed from: http://wahagarden.com/)

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.