"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

"Unfinished" journals--blank pages

Last night's journal thoughts
Lots of blank pages left in a journal,
After noble beginnings of dates, trips, titles, first inspirations
But after  a few pages
A few pages into the new year
Blank pages--pages that say "unfinished."
But maybe not.
Maybe they are finished
All that needed to be written was--
the purpose of the journal changed
the trip ended
life intruded
So that the journal is finished, served its purpose
No matter how many blank pages.
Some with fancy covers, others cheap spiral binders, carrying stories, photos, receipts, flowers, maps, insights.
Dad's unfinished oil cowboys
gambling 24 by 30
An "unfinished" painting of my dad's hangs on the wall, drawing complete, base paint and tones in place After he's been dead 40 years, it is still him.
Used journals accumulate, on shelves, or boxes or closets.
there for picking up and browsing when the mood arouses
Or when you're looking for some blank pages 
to write something like these words on
as a pondered life's passing last night.
But you don't spoil the older journals, 
They belong to an earlier present tense, to different people.
any more than you'd try to finish someone else's painting
Journals accumulate, including the bulging Paris journal
You search until you find
one that somehow is unwritten in.
Unlike a diary there's no daily pressure, 
Just the urge, the need, to write about who and where you are.
Journals are present tense
Read them years later and
the memories are alive
even if the handwriting is harder to read or fades with years.
When you quit writing, you have recorded your present
It becomes a mirror of who you are at that time
Besides, you will start and "finish" other journals
--blank pages are just the future.

(We have almost 30 previous journals in the house, some bulging like my Paris journal from 10 years ago, Some barely written in. Most about trips, but also about new years, and resolutions, and pain and milestones in life. I started searching for a blank one last night, and found this one falling apart, wherein the above poem appeared

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