Introducing Blogger Peter Damian Bellis,
Here’s an address from Peter Damian Bellis. Download a copy of his latest book here for free. These posts will go up on Tuesdays, and Peter will read at our pilot reading in late January 2012. He is a good friend to Billtown Blue Lit, and we’re excited to be presenting these posts, originally posted at his own blog titled, “Three Cents Worth of Lime and Iron.”
Three Cents Worth of Lime and Iron
“’… we can’t turn back the days that have gone. We can’t turn life back to the hours when our lungs were sound, our blood hot, our bodies young. We are a flash of fire – a brain, a heart, a spirit. And we are three-cents-worth of lime and iron–which we cannot get back.’” – Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel)
Simply put, everything I write is an attempt to carve out a piece of immortality, and since my family roots are in the South, and since by the South I mean a strange mix of the Old South and the New South, with all of the inglorious, profound and quixotic decay the Old South conjures up, and all of the passionate, chaotic, hopeful anxiety upon which the New South is built, my vision of immortality is more about place outside of time, more about memory becoming myth than about anything that might have actually happened. My world, then, at least the one I would inhabit, is a melting pot of slow-moving places and fast-rattling, rusted-out cars, neon lit juke boxes and movie-house fist-fights, sleepy, dusty backroad towns and red brick courthouses with one-armed Confederate Generals (the bronze variety) looking out past the pink and purple blossoms of overgrown crepe myrtles and an abandoned drug store at the end of the street. It is a world of images, moments. Trucks with their sideboards cracked, high-bouncing past dusty, solitary Gulf gas stations with crates of plums and peaches and beans and collard greens sun-drenched and steam-drenched, and the drivers of those trucks unconcerned with where they are going, or when they will get there. Or low-country fish-frys with a heavy iron grill rolled out to the edge of a long wood-splintered dock, a makeshift boardwalk with a hard-packed strip of brown, sandy beach below, almost gray in the fading red light of the evening, and the smells of fish and grease and sweet potato fries rising up with the smoke, and the soft murmur of voices talking who died or got married or ran away rising up also, like smoke. Or bands of southern city vacationers bored with the sun-gleaming highrises heading off on buses or trains to the sea, the highways and railways running parallel for a while, then crisscrossing, drifting this way and that way, following the lowest contours of the red, loamy earth, the riders drifting also, this way and that, heads back on head-rests or seat-rests or tiny, crumpled white pillows, in and out of a hazy, dusty sleep, the smell of the dry dry grasses carried on gentle, warm breezes, the smell drifting in through the open windows of the buses and the trains, the sweet, salty moisture of the sea just barely hinted at, the dream of what may still be possible also hinted at, barely, barely. My South is a world where the past and the present and the future all come together, mingling, transforming each moment. And so it was that when I thought about what to call this southern writer’s account of things, or for that matter what to even write about, I thought my jumping off point would be Thomas Wolfe, for he was also concerned with the immortality of the spirit, the inevitable decline and decay of our physical existence, the lime and iron of humanity. So here it is, a beginning, and if you are also thinking about these things, then perhaps you will not only enjoy my thoughts, but you will share yours with me as well.
-Peter Damian Bellis