"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

30 June 2016



There is nothing like Africa
as there is nothing like youth …
or waking each day not knowing what the day will bring
but knowing that it will bring something.
We rode out to the cemetery
through the country he wrote about.
I like to write standing up.
He was buried in a plain pine coffin,
newly painted black so that the paint
came off on the faces and the hands …
Simles are like defective ammunition …
and leaving was like an amputation.
I got your check cashed
it like a son of a bitch. ...
About the smell of death part …
That is all a writer of fiction is.
Let me know when we start to get rich.
Your legend grows like the barnacles
on the bottom of a ship …
The sea is the sea. The old man
is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish
s a fish. But nobody likes to be tailed.
The question is: can you write?
If I praise your damn poetry any more
you'll think I'm a fairy or a critic …
Hadley joins in congratulations …
No I don't think "My Old Man"
derives from Anderson.
            Dear Miss Stein:
We have been killing cattle –
killing lions for the Masai.
It is lovely now and hurricane months . . .
are very beautiful. And how is Zelda?
I get damned maudlin about how swell
you are. Today your letter … came.
—wash and peel all the fruit you eat.
Let us take up the word bitch again.
To get back to your letter.
… Liquor is the only mechanical relief.
The sharks are all sharks no better …
I am as committed as an armoured
column in a narrow defile …
Mary sends her very best. Yours in belle lettres. P.S.
It has always been my ambition.

That is all a writer of fiction is.
Especially when you look forward
like hell to getting mail … Patrick
got a hundred in so many subjects
that we decided it is a lousy school.
Almost like a genius. I'm sure
we should all be happy as kings.
I wish Charlie and Max were alive
because they would have had fun.
The world is so full of a number of things.
Seems like a pretty good basic slogan
for any time. About dying:
We must do it but there is no reason
we should give it importance.
Only lets hurry to get to Havana and to Key West …

We sail for Spain in May
… it is a story about a boy
who has come back from the war.
The war is never mentioned.
The Buick is running well.
This may be one of the things that helps it.

She found a way of writing
that was like writing letters all the time.
… very possible that tearing down
is more important than building up.
Nobody knows about the generation
that follows them … But maybe
will get around to that later.
It's wonderful to be a writer.
Sometimes it's like drilling rock
and then blasting it out with charges.
You know I am superstitious
and it is a hell of a damned dirty business …
To make a pitcher of Bloody Marys
(any smaller amount is worthless) …
You write a fine letter kid.
Don't forget to blow your nose and turn
around three times before you go to
bed. That way you can always go on.
I want life to hold some mysteries.
Bumby, my oldest boy … is somewhere
around fifteen sixteen or seventeen.
He had a very steep trajectory
and was almost like a guided missile
with no one guiding him.
Must truly get to work now.
Boiling it down always
rather than spreading it out thin.
Going fishing next week.
(… and live to be a wise old man
with white beard and chew tobacco)
No'one you love is ever dead.
I would like to have the proofs as soon

as possible. Tomorrow is my birthday.
There is something morbid about it.
… and didn't he know that the man
in The Snows of Kilimanjaro could have
spoken of him, or thought of him …
but-it was always full of pity
as though you had a butterfly or a moth
for a friend. Then, now …
Very hard to write. How does it go?
And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Stephen Bodnar

This is a poem made of entirely of lines, or parts of lines, from Hemingway’s letters. 

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