“Whatever Is Pure, Whatever Is Lovely, Preserve” | Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine | 3 November 2018

Thank you so much, Eds. James Diaz, Elisabeth Horan, and Amy Alexander for welcoming me to Anti-Heroin Chic, a magazine I’ve long admired. When James sent a caring and immediate acceptance for this story, I knew it found its right home. This one is called: “Whatever Is Pure, Whatever Is Lovely, Preserve.”

Here’s what I imagined: What if people from our future–before they were even born–could see us and were delighted by and loved us so much that they visited us in our dreams in an effort to palliate and prepare us for some future, devastating, wracking heartache? The death of one’s own child?

I think the best attempt I ever saw, to describe a heartache, was this 44-second movie, of a sentence by Matt Sumell, animation by Brock Davis. It’s a plus, in this context, that it has a tone of youthfulness.

I never understood what a heartache was, until I had a heartache, and yeah, it’s like a ball of tin-foil that crunches smaller and smaller until your chest is tight and it really hurts. Does Electric Literature still do these single-sentence animations? I mean, that’s really a sweet and beautiful little film and a sweet and beautiful little sentence.

Can people from our future watch us, the way I imagine I’ll be able to watch the long film of my own life one day? Can the love we have in this life delight these others, too? I hope so.

That reminds me now, of a beautiful poem by Carl Dennis, “The God Who Loves You.” Never fails to make me cry. I mean, I feel a little dopey asking you to read this poem before maybe you read a story of mine, I’m afraid I’ll just wither in the juxtaposition, but it’s just too good not to share.

Here’s a link at the Poetry Foundation for “The God Who Loves You” by Carl Dennis.

I asked for permission from Penguin/Random House to reprint the poem here, but they said no. (“Material will need to be password protected with a secure number of users in order for us to grant.”) By the way, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, I got a response from P/RH Permissions within 24 hours of the request. I was really impressed by the speed of response! Even if it means an extra click, please read the Dennis poem it will enrich.

So, I hope you read and love “Whatever Is Pure, Whatever Is Lovely, Preserve.” I wrote it at 10,000 feet in Breckenridge, Colorado. Maybe I was oxygen starved, but my dreams for the first few days all featured the same visitor. The same little boy in silhouette. I never tire worrying of my sons, I suppose. One of my favorite places on earth is still a cliff-side village in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland: Murren. Oh, and there really is a grotto that was once a copper mine in my little-how-town. All those things are here, all satin-stitched into a 480-word, tinfoil ball of heartache and love, an interlocking composition like the photo, at the top of this page, of the Getty Museum in L.A.

Here then, is “Whatever Is Pure, Whatever Is Lovely, Preserve” at Anti-Heroin Chic. Enjoy.

And then go back and read this Anti-Heroin Chic beauty by one of my favorite writers, Sheldon Lee Compton. Oh, and this amazing, my god beauty by Pat Foran gave my heart that tin-foil crunch. Those are two pure and lovely writers whose work I am grateful Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine preserves. Honored to join them.

Thank you for visiting here and reading these essays about stories. I suppose I’d have finished my novel by now if I didn’t keep stopping to take time to write these along the way. Maybe I’ll put a halt to them in 2019, which I am declaring the year of my novel.

But if something ever happens that I don’t finish that novel, there’s all this work. Something told me to hedge.