This blog has seen a lot of me. More than that, it’s seen a lot of my work. Over the last four or five years, I’ve written hundreds of pages in the way of essays, poems, operas, spoken word albums, obituaries, short stories, and novels. Every line, every word has been a real piece of me, a real piece that I place in a basket and send down the river hoping that it will arrive to some distant shore. I’m never really sure what I hope to happen after that. I don’t have many expectations for my words (letting go of outcomes is a mental shift I’ve been trying to make for awhile, to varying degrees of success), save one: I hope they do good.
Madelyn sets the crossword to the side. None of the answers are right, but she still managed to make everything fit. Making yourself right tastes better over a cup of instant coffee. Her daughter gifted her fancy beans from Colombia last Christmas. The bag sits on the counter next to the coffee pot, unopened. She likes the ink print on the front so much that she could never bring herself to open it. She settles for opening more cards with other people's names on them instead.
Madelyn finishes The Plain Dealer’s daily crossword puzzle in thirty minutes flat. She gets up from the kitchen table for a second cup of coffee and stirs in three spoonfuls of sugar. Metal on ceramic echoes through the kitchen. When she sits back down, she takes out today’s bundle of mail and removes its rubber band, bounty unfurled.
The first time I meet my psychiatrist, / he asks if we’ve met before. / This does not bode well.
Writing every day used to come easily. Once, a professor asked my class who there wrote every day. No one raised their hand but me, and he told me I was full of shit. Back in those days, I was full of shit for a bunch of different reasons but lying about writing every day wasn’t one of them. Despite my daily practice, it took me seven years to complete a book about the French Revolution that I’m still not happy with. It took years to realize that writing every day is a practice dedicated to its own perpetuation, like jogging. After moving to Boston, without the external expectation of school or a big project, the daily practice was pushed to the wayside in favor of work and friends. My writing muscles got flabby. Very flabby.
This room has four walls, but it is also without walls, expanding past the fragile steel of my skull. A fragment of me looks at rows and rows of glass bottles that harbor remnants of some yesterday. I am there, fingers tracing along bumpy corks and smooth, cool glass. Memories pulse beneath like a plasma bowl, striking out in purples, blues.
The doughnut shop isn’t up to code; / danger makes a delicious dish. / Here, hello is flash-fried catfish.
My grandfather's jaw is locked / into the smoothness of my chin / a mechanism that helps me chew / the fat at Christmas
I need to write something. It needs to be 500 words. It needs to be posted today. At first, I was going to post a poem because I have lots of poems stored in the archives, but then I decided that would be cheating. So, here we are at the edge of burnout. This week marks one year in quarantine. One year of sitting in my bedroom, day after day: wake up, walk the dog, work, eat, work, walk the dog, work, walk the dog, eat, scroll, sleep. Intersperse that with some major dissociative episodes kicked off by mindlessly checking social media, and you’ll have a good idea of what this pandemic has looked like for me. It’s probably been the same for you, too. Or maybe you’re one of those people who had the personal strength to get super into CrossFit and cut carbs out of your diet for good. If you are one of those people, good for you. I am not.
Pen clicks mark time / in a unit where no gets / to leave.