This Is Just To Say


Ran across some verse and realized: The tidal-wave of domesticity that's crashed on these shores has rendered modernist and late-modernist love poetry inoperate.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

Etc. I'm standing in front of the fridge and I can hear the voice already, lilting up, with a frustrated shrug and frown for the question mark: you ate the plums? That she bought special at Fairway to have for breakfast, not only that but didn't you remember that you're mildly allergic to plums? And I'll be handed a Benadryl after my face turns red, forced to bear her sad headshake. She can hear me open the fridge door from 100 yards and if I opened it right now she'd yell out “don't eat them” and I'd get pissed off and run back into the bedroom and say with a mock sneer, “baby, I'm not going to eat them for God's sake.” So actually as a test I do open the door and she yells “don't eat the plums,” and I laugh and go in and tell her about how I'm not about to eat her stonefruit and brag about how I tricked her.

With my 20s behind me e.e. cummings just looks like a ridiculous trimhound horndog—Pan, punctuated, rampaging through the garden to compensate for his lowercased organ. Consider also Roethke: She moved in circles and those circles moved. The problem is that smooth diameters are now replaced by visions of a row of women exercising themselves upon the ellipticals on the second floor of the Park Slope Y. The sentiment becomes jiggly and insulting, and I'm not going to judge given that I am myself ovoid. I'm going to go home and put my gym clothes in the laundry basket.

(If you drop your dreams on the floor like that cats are going to tread softly on them and they'll end up dirty with pawprints. Dreams should be in the dresser; that's why we have a dresser. For dreams. In the little right drawer.)

Thus life turns out not to be all picnics in graveyards. (You do get the complacencies of the peignoir and the coffee.) All those dead poets stressed about god and goblins and getting laid should have been born later, into cell phones and science. Send a few flirting text-messages—not even a stanza's-worth—and if you have any game you can meet up at a bar and get your circles moved. Not to mention the universes-worth of imperishable bliss inside every plum.




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

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Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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