E. J. Evans


For a long time I thought

For a long time I thought there must be stories in me that had to be let out and brought out into the air and light stories of confusion and difficulty and my pseudo-heroic struggles and how my own flimsy consciousness has undergone inexplicable and strange changes in the course of a few decades and has been stretched pulled pushed hammered flat exploded frozen burned and poured out into different shapes one after the other to put it more prosaically things have not gone according to plan for me but to my family and friends I would like to say it's not like I was trying to live a messy life I am just passing through anyway and there are things I have passed through or fallen through and things that have passed through me as if I were as insubstantial as a ghost maybe telling the stories would bring me some kind of redemption at last but then it occurs to me finally to ask well redemption for whom exactly and whose stories would they really be now that I'm getting on into my quote maturity unquote I find the stories becoming elusive they flow out of my hands like water I can put my hands in them and touch them but it's like touching a flowing stream and now I feel not so much the presence of stories anymore and I can no longer tell them but I sense songs in me instead clear and simple songs moving through me at a deep level they are always there always going on somewhere and most of the time I feel as if I can almost hear them I know they are there and I am sifting through the days I am listening deeper into them my life has become an ongoing quest to try to find these hidden songs in me and somehow bring them to the surface of my hazy mind and make them clear and it doesn't matter so much who exactly the songs are about or the identity of the person singing them because songs are songs


Never having succeeded much at anything

Never having succeeded much at anything I've come to appreciate the subtle appeal of futility I can testify that it's helped me to live a richer life one must always be doing something it's true but it's better if the doing is to no great purpose because let's face it in the end there are no great purposes anyway or to put it another way can we avoid acting from ulterior motives can we just give up hope and rejoice because no one will be the winner and we are all losers in the end so let's join hands and sing into the nothingness just belt out whatever song you've got back when I first started studying music I was 48 years old and a failure at most things I'd tried so I figured I might as well fail at music too and I just wanted to see what that would be like for a long time I was racked by anxiety it didn't seem possible I could actually learn to play music and something in me resisted going forward some terrible inertia fought back against my music practice my mind felt flimsy and porous as tissue paper and my fingers felt heavy as lead but I did it anyway and in time the music stuck to me and became my daily practice and my daily practice became the backbone of my life and to my surprise it gave me strength in difficult times though now I play whether anyone is listening or not nothing comes of it really I have played for audiences but these days my playing is mostly directed at the great emptiness surrounding us that unlimited space in which we all are invisibly joined together


E. J. Evans

E. J. Evans is a poet and musician living in Cazenovia, New York. He has contributed poetry and prose-poetry to many literary journals including Poetry East, Rattle, Stone Canoe, and Confrontation. His chapbook First Snow Coming was published by Kattywompus Press. He is a student of honkyoku, the traditional meditative shakuhachi music of the Zen Buddhist temples of Japan, and receives instruction from the shakuhachi master Yodo Kurahashi II.