My Novels

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wally Carlson

Years and years ago I corresponded with a guy in Washington state. He was brilliant, a member of MENSA, but eccentric, a loner. We probably shared no more than a couple dozen letters (the old-fashioned postal paper/pen kind in those days)...and exchanged some of our poetry. As with so many of my past correspondents, I have no idea whatever happened to him.

I do remember he lived alone in a small innovative dwelling, never married, planned never to have children; he was in his 30s, and probably kept that lifestyle. At any rate, reading about loners lately, realizing my own solitary nature, I remembered him, looked through some of my notebooks I'd kept of correspondents' poems. I found one of Wally's poems I'll post. Who knows, someday he may come across this site and we'll catch up on all the many years since we last communicated.

Solitary Duet

I walk down cold, wet, shiny black streets,
empty, as far as the eye can see
a street sweeper motors its way round the corner,
swirling and swishing its way past, off into infinity
once again I'm alone

The sound of my footsteps echo off the walls
empty buildings with darkened eyes reflect my soul
shadows creep by, hurried along by the wind
hours melt, one into the other
I'm here for the duration

Another soul appears in the distance,
her work-weary pace, slow and deliberate
we share:
the dark of night
the blowing wind
the chilling rain

Onward we go, collars up
rain-soaked hair, flat against our heads
feet sloshing in damp shoes
so much in common

Weak fires burn in these time-beat souls,
combined they could lift us above the rim,
of this self-made grave we stroll
some things aren't meant to be

We pass on separate sides of the street
the corner of my eye is all you get
that's all there is
once again I'm alone
silent soldier of the night
marching towards the dawn

--Wally Carlson, 1984


It's obvious he is a loner, and recognized that loner nature in myself as well, though at the time we were corresponding, I was fighting my true nature. I had other obligations, couldn't manage to live the kind of life I wanted, even for writing. I just thought it was interesting how much insight he demonstrated in this poem, about me and about himself (and loners in general), though we never met in person.

Alas, handwritten letters have gone the way of the dinosaur: extinct.

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