Doing Things Out Of Books

Everybody needs things to do with their lives, and in general, books are a great place to go, if you need ideas.

One of the great laws of book people is that you will–eventually, whether you admit it or not–go out and do something because you’ve read about it in a book.

And we’re not just talking cook books and how-to’s. Not that cheese making and battle-robots aren’t awesome.

There are also the is that possibles, the how hard could it bes, and worst of all, the dreaded Oh, that sounds like funs.

And that’s how you wind up knee deep in papier mache or standing on a tourist-infested riverboat.

Yup. You have to go to these places. Some of them are pretty. Some of them are historical. And some of them are… fun.

So, in the wonderful world of American poetry (not generally my cup of peanut butter), there’s a poem that’s always stuck with me, at least in part because of the weirdness of it.  I never really “got” the poem, and I probably don’t, now. The guy pours two glasses, one sweet and the other bitter, and gives the sweet one to his friend, while drinking the bitter. And then, his friend marvels at how happy the first guy is.

The internet informs me that this is a metaphor for service to others making you happy.

In light of the fact that the bitter drink was wormwood, I always thought it was a metaphor for not having worms making you happy.

Or… in my internet enlightened phase… shall we point out that wormwood (one variety) is the same thing that gives absinthe its trippy quality?

Maybe Cliff Klingenhagen was just toasted.

At any rate, it turns out that wormwood is currently legal in the US (using it in alcohol manufacture apparently isn’t.) and that it makes a dandy tea. (I’m really not picturing tea in that poem, but maybe…)

Well, what the hell. Can’t be any worse than the corn meal mush was. And if it tastes worse than the pemmican, I’ll just assume it’s a divine punishment of some sort.

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