Gary Swaim           Arts and Letters

Gary Swaim Arts and Letters


   In my previous blog, I ended my comments with the possibility of tripping over ideas in the direction of discovery.   A day or so later, in my slow and stumbling way, I opened several boxes that had lain in the garage for some ten or so years.  I knew, generally, what was in them, but I didn't know I would find one of my journals that dated back to 1991.

   There it was, precisely the kind of thing I tell all my creative writing students to do. . .a journal of random, but telling, thoughts set in a wide variety of locations, covering a three-year span.  I was ecstatic (ex-stasis, standing beside or outside oneself).  Glowingly happy.  I had tripped over ideas and only now have the hope of some discoveries.  The page-one words were a paraphrase of something one of my favorite playwrights (Arthur Miller) said:

          "Yes, I have my tragedies, too.  Everyone does.  The only difference is that I try to take mine home with me and make            it sing."

My little pile of tragedies have been medical in nature, including three near-death experiences (surgeries, brain scans, MRI's, six-month hospitalizations,  and a coma of 54 days).  But, when I could, I tried to make them sing, writing:  poem upon poem, short stories, and even a drama,entitled Morphine.  Below, is one of those "songs," published in an anthology entitled 8 Voices, Contemporary Poetry of the American Southwest.                      


Orange Popsicle  

My mouth is desert dry.
Blowing sand dunes coat the palate.
Diminutive grains make gaudy sounds
between upper molars #2 and 3 and lower
#'s 30 and 31.  I can't swallow.  I wash bits
of sand about the mouth with the only saliva
I can muster.

From across the hall in our ICU,
Room 318, Mr Leland shouts, "How 'bout
some food?  Bring me something to eat.
From Room 322 it's the almost inaudible voice
of Mrs. Kreutzer whispering, "Just a piece of toast,
please. A piece of toast," and the wind pushes
what seems a Sisyphean boulder up the side of my

left, lower wisdom tooth wall, only to fall back into
the cavity of the adjoining tooth.  Oh, if I could
only swallow, but tubes populate my throat--desert snakes
twisting joyously down my throat and back to the ventilator
giving me life.

I hear her walking the hallway, high heels clipping
a light fantastic on a clinically white floor.
Who needs an orange popsicle?  Oranges for sale,
she sings waggishly.  And, at last, I am able to swallow,
as I now must swallow many things, especially fear.


Make your tragedies sing, friends.  Singing may help you heal.  Give it a shot!  By writing, by playing "anything," by actually singing. . .by an attitude in your world that rises above the limitations of the moment.  Next time. . . .









     I am doing something I, clearly, never expected to do.  I am blogging and will be blogging, as schedules allow, once a week.  And this, without knowing whether anyone cares, even whether anyone reads any more.  Why am I doing this?  Do I havethat much to say?  Anything of value, at all?  Honestly, we’ll both find the answer to these questions should you choose to follow me, though I’ll not be engaged in exchange of dialogue.  I’m just putting “stuff” out there, with hopes it will have value and will be read.
            Surely you must have asked yourself the question:  â€œwhat is the etymological origin of the word, blogging?”  Or maybe not. I’ve found no one else, to date, who has seemed interested in the origin of the word, but since I’m writing one (e.g, the noun, blog), it seems I should determine its etymological origin.  Well, it might not be so easy.  It appears to be a word once associated with a young servant, perhaps a servant of almost any sort and may have been a derivative of the English “bloke.”  And, when I think of this possibility, I think of its tentative linkage with the word “swain,” also suggestive of servant and sometimes young lover.  As my name is Swaim (an old lover), I’d like to think that this swein (e.g., etymological origin of “swain”) is writing this blog as some kind of service to the reader.  Time will tell if this is what really happens.  Sorry for all this etymological “stuff,” but I love language, as any of my readers will certainly see.
            Now, what might be my subjects of interest?  Well, just about all the things we have in our world to enjoy.  I’ll not engage in diatribes (synonyms for diatribes might be rants, abusive harangues, and the like).  There is enough running at one another with knives in our world: social, political, and personal.  I’ll explore things I love and perhaps, broadly, ideas in our world that you, along with me, will find of interest.  I have no real answers to our world’s problems, not really.  I live the questions, as suggested by my favorite poet Rainer Maria Rilke.  In reality, at an age approaching seventy-eight years, I’ve learned how little I know.  But, I love the search, and for now, this becomes my medium through which you and I can search multiple questions together.  Stay with me, to see what an “older man” is doing and to, perhaps, trip over ideas in the direction of discoveries.  Next time, friends. . .  

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