My thoughts return at times like these
To the man upon the table
The person who I used to be
Before the one who now is me
I wonder at his screams
His violent protestations
As the doctors prepared him for what was, in retrospect
An urgent emotionalectomy
Why couldn’t he see the dangers of his condition?
Even, in that very moment, the suffering that these tumors
(Fear, anger, sadness, love)
Were inflicting upon him?
Didn’t he see how much happier he would be once they were gone?
No, not happier…that’s a poor choice of words
The happiness and joy, those had to go as well, of course
As we now understand these to be symptoms of the underlying disease
The mechanism through which the whole remains undetected and untreated
Like the dangerously rewarding surge of endorphins
Accompanying the abandonment of chemo
So not happier
But couldn’t he see how much less unhappy he would be?
He used to suffer so many agonies
Fear of a future he could not control
Anger at injustices he could not correct
Sadness at tragedies he could not prevent
In all its forms
Because when has love ever been without pain?
And there were the smaller discomforts as well
Embarrassment caused from slights meant with no ill-will
Regret over choices that would have ended poorly in either direction
Anxiety about ludicrous imaginings that would never come to pass
Disappointment in his attempts to give voice to these miserable emotions
I do not think he would have liked this poem
Or, more to the point, he would have disliked this poem
Because of course, I do not like this poem
But I do not dislike it either
It simply is
And it is fine
That’s all anything ever needs to be now
Everything is fine
Everything is fine
Everything is fine
Everything is fine
My thoughts return at times like these
“Not my type”
Are the words that keep coming to mind
The problem being the implication
That I have a “type”
That the conundrum of who I like and who I don’t
Could be quantified and measured with words like
“Brunette,” “Shy,” or “Riot Grrrl”
Sometimes I wish I was asexual
Then people might at least understand
People like on-off switches
But low-turned dimmers make everyone uncomfortable
I wish there was a fetish to explain it
A way to say,
“It’s nothing personal,
I’m only attracted to amputees in scuba gear and stilettos
…well…just one stiletto, I guess.”
Everyone else seems to have predictable functions to chart the data of arousal
“See? The graph of people I’m attracted to forms a sinusoidal curve
As does the silhouetted outline of my ideal sexual partner.”
Mine is erratic data on a scatter plot
Too disparate to form a graphable trajectory
Too sparse to make meaningful conclusions
I want a way to say
Not wanting to fuck you doesn’t mean I’m not in love with you
Not being in love with you doesn’t mean I don’t love you
Not loving you doesn’t mean I don’t like you
Not liking you doesn’t mean I don’t care about you
Not caring about you doesn’t mean you aren’t worth caring about
I’m pre-programmed with contradictions
And nothing I say or think or do should change a thing about you
Unless you want it to
You aren’t one of the tiny handful of people
Who can make the elevator floor drop out of my heart
And I’m sorry if I was one of yours
I don’t want to hurt you, but it’s a choice between
Hurting you with a “no” and
Hurting you with a “yes” that ferments into resentment
You’re like pepperoni
And lots of people like pepperoni
But I’m the weirdo who wants artichokes
And I can’t explain why I like artichokes, or even exactly what artichokes are
But you’re not artichokes
And you wouldn’t be happy as artichokes
You aren’t less than
You’re just different from
And maybe it will hurt for a while
And maybe it won’t
But in the end, you’ll be free
To be happier than I can ever be.
But that’s a mouthful
And most of it doesn’t make sense, even to me
It always feels easier to say
“Not my type.”
I’ve become an inward-turning thing
Like the legs of a spider, dying
Curling into an asterisk across my abdomen
No longer do I weave my tangled web
Spinning tapestries like Arachne
Or making messiahs of humble swine
It’s far too much work
And I’d rather sit on my spinnerets
Admiring the orb weaver’s precise calculus
Or the ominous funnel of my Australian uncle
Or the effortless chaos of my frantically cobwebbing sisters
What need has the world of any web of mine?
Save for the snaring of flies
Whose taste has grown sour with familiarity
Perhaps I’ll try again tomorrow
To craft something of exquisite grace and beauty
Until it meets a heavy rain or blundering thumb
But for now I think I’ll curl up here on the floor
Fold these legs which tire of walking
And dream of webs unwoven
You’re still here.
It’s been a while since I posted because…because…
I don’t really have a good reason. Maybe that’s part of the problem. It’s hard to come back after six months (or however long it’s been) and have no good explanation for the disappearance.
I just kind of…stopped caring.
Not about everything. My video gaming has remained steady, and I’m binge-watching four different shows right now. But writing got hard.
I finished the first draft of a novel in January, and promptly decided that I’m a terrible writer.
I mean, I actually still like most of it…but the opening chapters (which I attempted to start rewriting a while back) are…rough. Which is only to be expected of something I wrote four years ago, but I thought it was good at the time. Just like I think the stuff I wrote a few months ago is good…so I’m probably going to hate that in another couple years.
So now it’s hard to write. The only reason I’m writing this is I’m fairly certain nobody will see it and it will disappear into the interwebs as soon as its released.
I learned how to be good at lots of things as I grew up, but I never learned to be good at screwing up. And that’s a problem…because I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.
This video–a quote from Ira Glass about storytelling–has been resonating with me.
I can’t promise that I’ll be posting more often. I’ve made promises like that before, and broken them every time. All I can say is that I want to post more. I want to write again.
It’s just hard right now. So are titles. So…yeah, no payoff for whatever I named this. Sorry. This is me getting used to screwing up.
To the girl behind me in line at the supermarket
Whose shopping list consisted entirely of
Sourdough and sour gummi worms
I wish I’d thought to ask you
If you were making
I hate you, woman in yellow
For all the terrible things you never did
And all the horrible flaws you never showed
And all the wretched words you never said
But most of all for when, as you walked along the sidewalk
You made a skip of joy, for no apparent reason
And kept walking
Unaware of the damage you’d done by making me notice you
Stepping out of the crowds of invisible millions
And forcing me to realize that I didn’t know a single thing about you
No foul habits to let me ignore you
No rude speeches to let me deplore you
No cruel misdeeds to let me abhor you
Nothing to remind me that you, like I, are human
And you, like I, will lie, cry, spy, defy, deny, crucify, mortify, falsify, dissatisfy,
And one day die, and feed the flies
You gave me nothing to put you out of my mind.
You were, are, will be
A perfect stranger
And I could have forgiven you anything
Anything but strange perfection
I cannot forgive you.
I can only try
The snow goes
As the snow does
(Does doesn’t rhyme)
The snow does, that is to say, the female counterparts to snow bucks
Make footprints all along the way
While I get up and resume
(Resume doesn’t rhyme)
Resume, that is to say, create a list of my work history and credentials
So I may travel ‘cross the globe
In hopes of finding a great job
(Job doesn’t rhyme)
Job, that is to say, a person with unyielding patience in the face of suffering
Who could last an entire summer
Bearing trials without number
(Number doesn’t rhyme)
Number, that is to say, more desensitized to pain
Feelings growing in his head
Unafraid to take the lead
Lead, that is to say, the chemical element with 82 protons in its nucleus
Paint from off his old lawn mower
The effort turning him rank as a sewer
(Sewer doesn’t rhyme)
Sewer, that is to say, seamstress, that is to say, actually a person of any gender who decides they want to take up sewing because it’s a relaxing and productive hobby, and who are you to impose your gender stereotypes on entire words?!
(Whoa, settle down there, Ogden Nash)
No, you settle down, parenthesister! You’re not even real! You’re just a gimmick I’m using to very poorly hide the fact that I have nothing significant to say!
(I’d say that hurts, but then, you are just putting these words in my mouth, so…)
Exactly, so why don’t you stop judging me!
(Oh please, tell me you’re not doing another ‘I write poems for me, not for you’ poem. You did that, like, five posts ago, and it was already hackneyed then.)
I am not! And it was not! Was it? Ah, I don’t care about your opinion…wait, crap…
(Are you just sending your poem through ever-deeper levels of deconstruction meat grinders to cover up your complete lack of confidence in your own artistic ability?)
(Calling attention to any recognizable pattern or habit or cliché you rely on, trying to forestall criticism by criticizing yourself first?)
(That’s pretty chickenshit, man.)
Well, now you’re doing it too.
(Point. But we all know it’s just you talking with yourself here. The dialogue conceit’s just an attempt to make the whole thing come across less self-indulgent. Which, by the way, isn’t working. And yes, I know I just did it again. Old habits.)
So what now?
(Well, you could do what you always do when a poem starts to make you feel uncomfortable: tack a too-hastily-applied punch line on to the end. Turn the whole thing into the literary equivalent of a fart joke. You’re already setting it up, I can tell. You just want to reassure everyone that this was all just part of your creative persona, that these internal monologues only last for a couple minutes at a time, pretend that you won’t spend hours obsessing over whether or not to put the accent marks in résumé.)
That has been bugging me.
(Just let it go. Nobody who matters cares.)
So what’s the other alternative?
(You can stick it out. Talk through your doubts and self-loathing. Work out your personal demons and accept that it’s okay to let your guard down. It’s okay to let people see you broken and scared. It’s okay to admit that you need help.)
Yeah…I could do that.
(Yes, you could.)
(So? What’s it gonna be?)