Today is Friday, April 20, 2018. It’s the birthday of writers Sebastian Faulks and Steve Erickson. And our poem for today is “Free Will” by Dara Wier. It’s from her collection, “In the Still of the Night,” published by Wave Books. Please consider supporting the poets whose work is highlighted here on Bidwell Hollow. Thank you, and thank you for reading and sharing us with others.

Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks’s (affiliate link) father survived the Battle of Dunkirk during World War II.

Photo of Sebastian Faulks.
Sebastian Faulks – Cambridge 2012” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Chris Boland

It’s a legacy that in part inspired Faulks to create a trilogy of books about a Scottish woman working for the British in France during the Second World War.

The third and final book of the series is “Charlotte Gray.” It published in 1999. Over a million copies of the book have sold. And a film of the same name starring Cate Blanchett released in 2002.

“Charlotte Gray” is Faulks’s fifth novel.

Born on this date in 1953 in Donnington, England, Faulks is also the author of books such as “The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives” and “A Possible Life.”

Faulks was the first literary editor of The Independent. He left that newspaper in 1991 to focus on writing. He published his first novel, “Birdsong,” two years later.

Steve Erickson

Cover of Steve Erickson's "Zeroville."
Affiliate link

Today is the birthday of writer Steve Erickson (affiliate link). He was born in Santa Monica, CA, in 1950.

Erickson is the author of ten novels, including 2007’s “Zeroville.” That book is about the transformation of the movie industry in the 1970s. Erickson wrote it in four months.

A movie based on the book directed by James Franco, starring Franco, Megan Fox, and Seth Rogen, is currently in post-production. It’s expected to release this year.

Along with writing fiction, Erickson is the film and television critic for Los Angeles magazine. Other periodicals he’s written for include Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The New York Times Magazine.

And Erickson co-founded and edited for 12 years the literary journal Black Clock.

Erickson’s received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, and an Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature.


“Free Will”

When the baby girl

would not stop crying

 

I had to wonder

how much pain

 

unrepeatable,

unbearable

 

and not to be balmed

can one child suffer?

 

The blossoming pear trees

invade the city,

 

and the plums

and the other

 

white blossoms

that lead to nowhere

 

and nothing.

Half the sidewalks

 

still wet

with what had been

 

pitiful spring showers.

The other half

 

not hot enough

to steam.

 

Some areas hazed

pink with wilting petals.

 

Some petals stuck

on crosswalks.

 

Some footprints

evaporating

 

in the dead center

of spring on this spring

 

afternoon.

Everything in the background

 

stays in the background.

As if this might as well be

 

the beginning of all time.

And this time time

 

will be kinder to everyone.

Though no one knows

 

whether this means more

or less of it.

 

Some people are stuck

with themselves forever.

 

When we willed eternity

into existence,

 

we might as well

have damned some of us

 

to some forever

without end.

 

What someone says

somewhere for,

 

for what.

I’m blind to something,

 

indifferent to something.

An indifferent monster

 

of oblivion am I,

sometimes.

 

My carelessness

guarantees

 

my indifference

will be monumental.

 

As though

I’d purchased my life

 

like—

what—

 

what might

a life be

 

like other than

what it is.

 

Like a flattened penny,

like a steamboat.

 

Like good money

unalike after bad.

 

My concerns are thin-

strapped and see-through

 

as any chemise

of cotton and lace.

 

Sometimes the loud

fake call

 

of mechanical birds

feels like

 

a slap in the face.

I’ve been slapped

 

in the face once.

But only once.

 

I’ve been strangled

but not to the point of lost consciousness.

 

I’ve been thrown against a wall.

What difference does it make?

 

Whether that’s a fact

or it might as well have been?

 

You work backwards.

You take

 

what we quaintly call

a broken heart.

 

You take its pieces

in practically undifferentiated parts.

 

You take your time with them,

turning them over.

 

in your quicksand mind,

the mind with quicksand in it,

 

so that any little stray

thought

 

will fall in

and never leave.

 

If you were the first person

to notice how dangerous

 

an overindulgence

in material goods is,

 

something would be

done about it.

 

If you were the first

to notice

 

we take advantage

of one another without fail

 

I’m fairly sure

we’d be living in a different world.

– “Free Will” from In the Still of the Night. Copyright 2017 by Dara Wier. Used with permission of the author and Wave Books.

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