Card Quest notecard and postcard by Todd
From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
I love the postal service. I love getting letters and postcards and packages. I’m sixty-seven; thus for much of my life there were no such things as personal computers and email and smartphones. The mail, the actual hold-in-your-hands letters and cards, was the great connector over long distances, especially among artists and writers and less conventional folks.
When I was in my twenties and thirties, I got two or three letters and postcards every day, and some days I might get seven or eight. Nowadays I get a postcard or letter, if I’m lucky, once a week. And though I gladly partake of email and depend on my email connections for an important part of my daily happiness, I still think of letters and cards I find in my post office box as holy relics.
In response to what I consider the new Dark Ages that have descended upon us, I have revived my habit of writing and sending out letters and cards each week. I don’t expect these missives to elicit replies via the post office or otherwise. I write these notes and letters because I find the process satisfying, and because I know such communications bring pleasure to the recipients.
To facilitate my pleasure and the pleasure of people I write to, I like to create postcards and notecards that are the kinds of notecards and postcards I wish to find in stationery stores or bookshops, but never find them—because they don’t exist unless I create them. In the last year, since reviving my habit of sending handwritten messages on one-of-a-kind postcards, and handwritten letters in one-of-a-kind notecards, several correspondents have asked if they could purchase copies of my cards. One thing led to another and I decided to launch a line of notecards and postcards and offer them for sale from my web site. If you’d like to see the new line, go to Underthetablebooks.com and click on CARDS in the menu. Then on the CARDS page click on Postcards or Notecards. Voila.
Many of my postcards and notecards are ideas related to people communicating with words, and these ideas are written out in colorful handmade lettering. The process of creating the wording for each idea is identical to the process of writing a poem; many iterations resulting in a final construction of words. Here are a few examples.
My SOMETHING postcard reads: Something reminded me of you today and I wanted to let you know I was thinking of you. Then I saw this postcard and thought, “Yes! Exactly!”
My CONNECT postcard and notecard reads: One day a person receives a card that seems to be about a person receiving a card. But that is just the beginning of a story about someone who wants to connect with you.
My WILD ADVENTURE notecard reads: This card went on a wild adventure through time and space to reach you (via the Postal Service). This card is both a message and a carrier of a message. The card’s message is: Look Within. The message within is…
I also have a card called SHALL WE DANCE? An extremely fanciful and colorful parrot is flirting with a flower, with the words Shall We Dance? writ large in the air above them.
So far, the buying public has not beat a path to my web site door, but that’s okay. These are the Dark Ages. Much in our culture and society is obscured, and most things of value are invisible to the general public. Keepers of the flame, you and I, do what we do without regard for fortune and notoriety. We keep the flame burning because engendering originality and excellence is our job.
Taking a break from writing this morning, I walked to the post office and found in my box a package from the visionary poet D.R. Wagner. I haven’t heard from D.R. in several years and I was eager to see what was in the package. But rather than open the package in the post office, I used my curiosity about what D.R. sent me to help propel my body, the old mule as Kazantzakis liked to call the corpus, up the steep hill to home.
In the package were two new volumes of D.R.’s poems, The Generation of Forms and Love Poems, published by small poetry presses—NightBallet Press in Elyria, Ohio, and Cold River Press in Grass Valley, California—keepers of the flame in these new Dark Ages. Reading some of D.R.’s new poems made me hungry to read my favorite D.R. Wagner poem, The Milky Way, which D.R. allowed me to use to conclude my novel of stories Under the Table Books. Here is that poem.
The Milky Way
We live in a spiral arm of a spinning
Field of stars. We whirl around, a carnival
Ride, full of birds, loves, emotions, endless
Varieties of things unfolding in seasons;
Full of bells and an endless weaving of hearts.
These connections ride upon our consciousness,
Demanding constant performance from us.
Each of us, most royal and majestic as night,
Vile, vindictive and spoiled even before we speak;
Sorrow and joy, the way we sound our name.
We endure all of this, our lips kissing each moment,
Crushed, elated, misunderstood, praised for things
We do as part of ourselves, damned for these same things.
There is no road, there is no plan. Only love
Survives. Everything is forgiven, finally.
Understanding limps behind the parade,
Always late, always burdened with qualifications,
Always abandoning every opinion and argument,
Leaving each of us our place only, describing
This place, the swirling arms, the myriad ways
We twist ourselves to achieve
This weaving, this carnival of love.