By Georgeyou’ve probably grown weary beyond all decency of what motives I have in telling you all this after I’d promised in the opening paragraphs this letter would not degenerate into a stale polemic or rationalization of failed potential. I threaten daily to cease this letter and let pass a relationship which might only serve to irritate rather than uplift. But there are other times I still hope that you will find at least my articulation of a life lived, more helpful than the bone silence of an empty past, that if you can not share my current faith, then you might perhaps share the humility granted to me in a strong sense of failure and unfulfilled promise, a pale writer without an unequivocal cause within which to write. When I speak of failure and unfulfilled promise, I speak of my own, of course. My temple of flesh and sinew is a wreck, but I stagger immutable among the soaring pressures amidst the love of Jesus. Why should I not? If he is still Jewish, perhaps I still have a shot at likeability. I have read this, and I have heard this so many times uttered by so many with far greater tragedy to overcome, I would be a most princely fool not to believe it for myself as well. Thundering in the well-worn, much treasured Ferrar Fenton you gave me, John 7:63 quotes Christ as saying, “The Spirit is the Life-Giver; the body is worth nothing.”
You and I both know the body psychologically influences and instructs the mind and hence the spirit, but I traverse among those who have long despised and mocked the body in order to elevate or at least test the spirit, to allow oneself to be exposed to the same ridicule that others less fortunate or less inspired fall prey to, a costly assault to common sense so that I might more closely understand the struggles of the negro, the corpulent, the drunk, the jobless, the ignorant, the young, the illiterate, the fiendish, the mutterer. True, the preceding is probably the most blatantly transparent rationalizing statement you’ve ever seen in print, but did not Christ become flesh for quite similar reasons?
Jesus is quoted in Matthew 12:32 as saying, “And if one gives expression to a thought against the Son of Man, he may be forgiven; but if one shall speak insultingly of the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither at the present time, nor in the future. Assume the tree to be good, when its fruit is good; or assume that the tree is worthless when its fruit is worthless, for the tree is known by its fruit. You venomous breed! how can you preach purity, when you are yourselves depraved? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart! The beneficent man draws from his treasury of purity, goodness; and the depraved man can produce only depravity, from his stores of depravity! I tell you, however, that every vile idea that men give expression to, they shall render a reason for it in the Day of Judgment. For by your thoughts you will be acquitted, and by your thoughts you will be convicted.”
When I try to raise myself to a leveled station I quickly fall sick with false pridethe code of the road in most circles of squanderunable to sustain myself in any sophistried prison of spiritual or corporeal relief, thus forfeiting any sort of normalcy my wife, bless her heart, with long suffering patience in every matter still seeks to encourage. While certainly not one to disparage the American middle class existence, I tamper with its ideals, tending to become a spur in the easy cheer of the self-possessed, suggesting chaos to the measured chaste if they use it like a weapon, while mandating order among the sluggards and tragic pit crew whose awkward desperation disgusts me into those rare moments of feeling justified in waving my own benevolence to and fro like a victory flag in an unwinnable war.
Yet now I’m weary of that shallow casting of loafers and unappreciative usurpers. And so I hurl myself even lower into the whirling bowels of self-justified exile, blustering agoraphobia, and noisy withdrawl from all things human but language, and its manipulation, or usage, if this latter word better fits your notions of what I am supposed to say to he who is trying so hard to be a man of biblical times, if not biblical proportions. But I seemed be more more supernaturally drawn to embrace a style of antibravissimo, for the rain knows not its own exemplary moves. Random events add up to a lifetime. Now that can be a lifetime of random events, or perhaps these events mean something. You thought our meeting was not a random event, but an ordained one. Either it is all ordained, or nothing is. Otherwise, it's all just a big stupid guessing game. Why rest one's fate on a guessing game? Either God pulled us together, or you just randomly hired on to the same company for which I was setting elevations on hubs in the ground so the grade operator could load and scrape the figure 8, so that one fine day in the roaring 1980s, designated Houston Metropolitan Police Academy cadets could practice their turns on what would be a concrete or macadam track when we were done. You know, I could load this page up with scripture, but suffice it to say, I have chosen the never a chance meeting approach. All is ordained!
As you might imagine, these rages of antibravissimo against self and society in general grind harshly against the softer wisdoms of my wife. She has tried with some minor success to understand the character of my apocalyptic rantings. Raised as a standard Sunday best southern Methodist, she is rather unlearned and disinterested in all things biblical, but I can tell you with exact reasoning without stutter or frosting that ten indubitable years of marriage has marked my wife Suzette as the most charitable, unpretentious and giving person I have ever known, quite in line with St.Paul’s own description of that term. Her hard work outside the home and her generosity inside the home plus my own passion for canon and understanding make for an odd couple but as those who know us both seem called upon to declarewe seem made for each other, a condition I realize you still believe about your estranged Ann and yourself.
But I am getting ahead of the story. The year is 1982. It is November. I am living in an agreeable efficiency apartment on Peachtree Street across from the famous Fox Theatre in Midtown Atlanta. I am firing off an unsung poem entitled The White Crow. I finish the first draft of the poem in half an hour or so with little realization of what I had written. A simple word purge.
This was quite common at the time, as I would set myself in front of the typewriter and empty page, trancelike (without drugs or alcoholGeorge, despite your strong counsel, but weak presumptions, and tedious accusations, I couldn't write, drive, or dance while stoned because my mind couldn't sit still when writing, I lost lost directional and memory, thus, motor skills when driving, and preferred to organize or do manual work I couldn't ordinarily find the motivation to do when someone asked me to dance, so I would oblige myself a couple of hits instead if available), allowing random words and phrases to filtrate through my subconscious and write themselves down without regard to formula or preconception. I needed no mollifying label like automatic writing or any such creative writing jargon to prompt me in this venture. But I keep forgetting. You found all creative writing except to the newspapers and surveyor's notes full of spiritual traps and avenues for self-glorification. But I finally rejected all that non-sense. I was choosing my world, and it wasn't yours. Many who have sat at a white sheet of paper in the typewriter have stared for long periods in a white daze, even those who craft their self-importance with writing to the editor. Technique was merely how I emptied my mind of current data thresholds, broken phraseology or whatever recently overheard soundbytes and floating images my mind grabbed randomly from the newspaper or street, occasioning no mystery or cult behavior, simply the jotting down of environmental biases and random momentary influences, going with the flow, accepting at first draft what the synapses bred.
Three days later on November 13, 1982, I was rereading the page and a half I had written without thinking too much about the piece at the time. There in the bottom third of the front page were the ordaining wordsAnd I took the name Gabriel Thy!