|I discovered the place where I would like to die back in the mid-1990’s – in other words, just yesterday – when I was running a rural newspaper delivery business. Oh – that sounds awfully grand, but I was actually subcontracting for a larger concern. The route took me 200 miles through the pleasant landscape hereabouts and acquainted me quickly with the area to which I had only just relocated. I gather it gave me a more advanced appreciation of ‘how to get around’ than most life-long natives acquire. The little village that I found most appealing, nestled between mountainous hills which rise unexpectedly out of a the more gently rolling landscape, appeared to my imaginative perception as a sort of Brigadoon which is lost to the general march of time. It is now one of three actual places that inspired Rhubarb Valley, my own creation – just to set the record straight.
“The Lord God Drops in on Rhubarb Valley” was intended as a novel about a poet who moves to this little village resembling three actual places to write his first work of fiction, a twisted modern take on the fantastic and convoluted libretto of Mozart’s Die Zauberflotte, his favorite opera. To begin with, I had him prevailed upon by the denizens of Rhubarb Valley – people who are just a wee bit ‘off,’ perhaps as a result of the local water supply containing natural lithium – to do a poetry reading. This required of me that I should write some actual poetry, which I had not attempted to do since college. And so I did so, coming up with “The Last Flying Woman,” and several others which I have posted here at The White Lodge.
As for the novel, it never happened, like most of my projects. It was just another ‘greatest story never written’ which perhaps I will one day write, but who can say? – There is such a back log it’s impossible to choose which of them to do. The Poet (who is never given a name) begins to write his novel, but discovers to his chagrin that poetry is all his creative mind seems to be able to manage. He meets a fellow named Quentin Tilby, author of several bestselling misogynistic self-help books for men, who has just recently received into his household a beautiful 17 year-old girl – daughter of Joan Dessins, author of several bestselling man-hating Feminist self-help books for women – which is causing a bit of local gossip, as one may imagine. But here the Poet seems to disappear from the story, and a young, good-looking fellow is introduced by literally falling into the Darkly Ravine when his beloved 1977 Mercedes Benz – named Wolfgang – malfunctions on a dark wee morning along the Ravine Road. After losing his footing and tumbling into the crevice, he is attacked by werewolves led by Snarl, chief of the wild dogs, and is rescued by the Patchoulli Girls – a trio of scantly clad beauties in the employ of Ms. Dessins whose home on East Hill is quite near the Ravine.
The young man is brought into the presence of Dessins and, upon accepting gratefully her offer of hospitality and help with getting Wolfgang repaired, is told the scandalous story of the daughter’s abduction by the evil Quentin Tilby… And, to make a long story short, we find ourselves within the Poet’s novel. We meet Louis, the auto mechanic, who is a simple young fellow longing to meet his Louisa, and the Nurse – Miss Todd – who runs the small medical clinic who tells about how, on occasion, the Lord God Himself drops in on Rhubarb Valley – each time it happens stopping Time and turning her hair from jet black to brilliant silver.
Well, there is reversal of perceptions of goodness and evil – just as there is in the Mozart opera – when the young hero (who has fallen in love with Dessin’s daughter after seeing her photograph) and his auto mechanic side kick infiltrate the Tilby compound on West Hill. (There is a long part here which involves a series of dialogues between Tilby and our hero on the meaning and purpose of life itself.) Dessins teams up with the werewolf Snarl eventually to attack… yada yada… And then…
…The Poet, in his advanced state of depression, puts a shotgun to his chin and pulls the trigger. At that moment the Lord God drops in on Rhubarb Valley. The deadly charge is halted – frozen in time – halfway up the shotgun’s barrel. Appearing before the Poet then are the characters he has created, demanding that he complete their story, making up a deputation led by Miss Todd with her brilliantly silver hair. We are in the middle of the Valley now. Joan Dessins has just attempted to shoot her own daughter but Tilby has taken the bullet. When Time stops a gigantic invisible form which impresses upon the imagination an image so terrifying and yet benign ‘appears’ out of Nowhere, speaking in a language none can know but all can understand…
What is to become of us? Are the words which pound inside the Poet’s head, and they seem to be spoken by all the assembled cast of fictions in a Chorus of Disapproval. He awakens with a start, the shotgun lying next to him, the bright sunshine streaming in through his windows…
Epilogue: The hero marries Quentin’s daughter, Louis marries Louisa (whom we have met along the way), Snarl returns to dwell forever in his cave, and Quentin, walking with a limp and cane but otherwise recovered, is reunited with his ex-wife Joan, and together they plant a garden. The meaning and purpose of life itself is Sacrifice.
And so… what came out of all that was The Lord God Drops in on Rhubarb Valley, the cycle of poems and prose poems which I wrote between 2002 and 2006, and performed at various area venues – ‘open mic’ events and so on – culminating at last in the single performance of the complete work which involved several voices, including that belonging to a poet friend of mine upon whose person the White Lodge character I refer to as the Poet is somewhat based. Well-meant plans to mount a more produced performance of the work, including original music and costumes, and so on, were interrupted by dinosaurs. But there are a few residents of my favorite little village, where there really is something in the water, who refer to it now as Rhubarb Valley rather than by its actual name.
The Lord God… was the first fully realized and completed piece of creative writing that I did since college – over 25 years ago – and it emerged from an overly ambitious novel that proved to be too convoluted to actually write. The White Lodge is my second fully realized and completed work of creative writing, and it continues. But, my friend TR, it will take the application of your imagination to discover the Poet’s My Space, just as it will to find Rhubarb Valley, for the Poet is a resident of The White Lodge, and the only map that shows where Rhubarb Valley is located may be found only here, filed away in some one of these infinite rooms to which my friend The Squabbler holds the keys.
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|Love the George MacDonald quote!!! He was influential in the life of CS Lewis and so many others….
I never tire of your pictures, friend
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|That piece I just read was the… mighty, mighty. Let’s raise that to_’ The Mighty,Mighty’_ It came so close to a rolling song _
‘Le Chanson de Roland’-to a marching cadence, pop,pop,…pop. I know it was a treatment…a taste, but everything was there. It was condensified magic. While passing forward… I always read each word_I had a snare drum _ rim hits_ sound in my head, not hard and fast, but with good speed, and tempo. and I can say I knew all of this, but I was made new again, and I realized, once and for all_ I am a part of The White Lodge.
…So, as it went along, it flowed forward at a pretty pace and I didn’t want it to end, because it was here in front of me. I felt like a fiction, myself, for the first time. What imagination gives, when we suspend reality for possibility. I do that every day, but there was more than a synthetic moment.
The drum beat was the meeting of the seconds and the flow was forward, …although it was coming in side-ways, because it was my first pass through this vail. Going along this road to meet your travel- I was suspended in the retinue of time and place. I can now see how you take the physical structure of being present along the way to gather the glue and givings of the eye to deliver the sound. It is quite amazing how the trust of your visiion is the inevitable path of your portal.
I am not thinking here…if I am thinking. I am feeling my way. Time stands still…In place. It is actually quiet_right now.
Guess what! We slept outside last night. Yup! _Found ourselves a spot up in the plum tree, right up there where the chickens like to roost. The spot was free last night, because I tricked them (those rascally rabbits) into their house at twilight. It was pretty much twilight and rain all day yesterday, and not a hint of sun.
Now …In all seriousness, John, um!_ John_ I cannot be serious, but that is the only way to be in the presence of such an event. If I am responsible? (I am responsible for what I imagine) …the facts are the facts. So there!
If in any way _ I have said anything too absurd… then we’ll just assume I have, and let it go. I am growing new connections through the map-quest. That’s all I needed to know. I will read again, aand we will give it another go!…and each time I will come closer to the mark. I am writing. I am forging forward. Do the math. Eventually my portal will become evident and I will find my memory whole.
Somehow, when I write something totally off the wall. I wrote this_
And You, obviously afford me the freedom to become uncongested and out of the tears_I am starting to get the physical dimension of floating above the fray. Imagining a world away_ the answers to the question of “What is Love?”. and_ “How do we get there?” Let me lead the way. Just now, I saw a door_ in the wood… just ahead.
In truth, I have never treated my visits here as anything…less,
What I could become, because of all the ways you have worked around this central theme. ‘The Lord God Drops In On Rhubarb Valley’.
TR, out and bye-bye
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|That last reply sort of led into my next post, TR, for reasons that will become apparent when you see it.
We should all be free to be fictions here, for what else is the point of having an existence in the electronic ether?
Slept out-of-doors? I dreamed of doing the same. We had a screened back porch when I was young. On some warm nights we all slept there, even when the crickets and cicadas were so loud one could scarcely sleep, but one gets used to it. This morning was relatively mild. I stepped outside into the darkness in shorts and a hastily pulled over sweater, though I realized I might have been teetering just on the edge of comfort in shirt sleeves. Ah – it won’t last. No roosters here – at least not in the immediate.
Doors in the wood lead to dug out fortresses where cigarettes are smoked and girls are feared, and spoken of in whispers. Some of us build a Bluebeard’s Castle where doors have doors, have doors. Or – Am I the only one? I don’t like to be alone, but I soon tire of company. Oh well… Susanna, don’t you cry for me…
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|MacDonald was the person who greets Lewis’s protagonist in “The Great Divorce” at the culmination of the Heavenward bus trip, Ron.|||< << >> >||
|It’s been days trying to log on in the a.m. and can’t get to the stream, oh well, fun to ketchup and will be around if someone opens the door to Rhubarb.
Took a fun walk on the path to the water tower through the tall corn field with a new friend, who was enjoying it so much that she only stopped once to check if the wet thing in her loafer was a slug! Now that’s a true friend. Some angel sent her my way at just the right time.
Well, John, love your musings and all that you write and your photos are a delight.
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|Thanks n.lynn. I’ve heard of having a pebble in your shoe, but a slug indeed? I’m so glad you like the pictures. The ones I’m putting up tonight are much better than lately.|||< << >> >||