lovely gum — a haibun

I know I’m not the first person to complain about the word “non-fiction.”  John McPhee points out in a Paris Review (no. 192) interview, “Nonfiction . . . that just says, ‘this is nongrapefuit we’re having this morning.’  It doesn’t mean anything.  You had nongrapefruit for breakfast; think how much you know about that breakfast.”  I can see how that would be aggravating particularly for a writer of that genre.  I wouldn’t want haiku to be called non-sonnet.  As much as Bob Dylan didn’t want to be categorized, I’m sure he’d prefer the labels folk or rock over non-jazz.  People want to be viewed by what they are, not by what they’re not:  Why can’t you be more like your brother!  I know Mr. McPhee does more than just not make things up, as if to be a non-fiction writer all you have to do is not make stuff up and there you go.  A student sticks her chewing gum to the bottom of her desk and blam – non-fiction.  It may not be good non-fiction but it is non-fiction all the same.  Perhaps non-fiction should be recast as prose found art.  It is what is around us, be it the New Jersey pinelands or oranges.  And who knows what interesting shape it maintains, our student’s gum, stuck there, like she is stuck there in class?  It will always be there, now, to take her place in Stuckdom so she can be free when the classroom clock strikes three.  Such beauty!  Such swift revolution!  Such, such lovely gum.


math class

what you want me to be

minus who i am

(from frogpond 36.2)