most everything i know is just shit i would like to forget.
Don't do it on the bus, on your way to work. Don't do it between bites of your food, on your cellphone. Don't do it late at night, when you can't sleep. Don't write.
Don't scribble notes on a napkin. Don't write about the things you see. And if you do, write? Don't you dare do it honestly. Don't do it brutally or candidly. Don't tell people the truth, don't give it to them raw and uncut. Don't write.
Don't pick up the pen, don't pick up the habit of picking up the pen. Don't press pen to paper and create anything, at all, not even a drawing, not even a doodle, not even a dot, but most especially: Don't write. Don't invest in pens and pencils like drug paraphanalia you keep on-hand just in case you need another hit, another fix, another emotional selfie of how you feel in this very instant and how it relates to everybody else. Don't scramble for a piece of paper to write on like you dropped a rock in the floorboard and need to stuff it back in your pipe, light it, and feel better.
Don't use it as a crutch. Don't use it as an escape. Don't use it as a support group. Don't use it to pass the time. Don't use it to purge. Don't use it as a method to figure out how you work, inside. Don't use it as a tool to try to understand the world. Don't use it to get out of your own skin. God, you hate yourself, don't you? Don't leave yourself behind to be part of other worlds. Don't do it a little at a time, and a little at a time, like stepping up to the edge of a cliff and teetering there for years until you finally fall into the abyss and the nothingness, and the never-endingness of it all, the untamable sentences, the confounding mixtures of words on words on words, the ever-evolving. Don't use it as a flashlight on a dark path to light the way ahead. Don't use it to remind yourself what you need at the grocery store. Don't use it to remind yourself to be kind. Don't write on sticky notes and post them to your mirror. Don't remind yourself you're okay. Don't write love notes to other people. Don't write love notes to yourself. Don't send it in a letter; don't write eulogies or epitaphs, don't use it as a glue to hold yourself together.
I'm begging you: Please don't write.
Don't write. If you have the choice, don't write. Don't do it, if it hasn't been forced on you. Don't do it if you weren't, you know, held down and forced to write. Don't write unless you can't breathe without writing. Don't write unless you need to; even then, try not to write.
Don't seek solace in words. Don't try to find meaning in them. Don't let it become a compulsion. Don't let it become your life.
Don't tell your friends you write. Don't tell your relatives. They'll just think it's weird, and if they don't think it's weird, they'll think they're a critic. They'll want to give you helpful advice, as an audience, but not helpful advice as a craftsman. They'll tell you it's easy to write. They'll say they could write a book, if only they had the time, like writing isn't its own work, like it's not a labor of passion, like it's not painful, and like their time is being spent so much better than your time spent writing. They'll ask if you've been published. They'll ask if you were published in anything they've heard of. They'll say you're no J. K. Rowling. Don't write.
Don't eat, sleep, and breathe writing.
Don't write; don't get good at it, for sure, then they might WANT you to write. And, then, by God, you might slip and fall into being a writer. Don't be a writer; don't write. To be a writer you have to be an open book and then you have to be an anatomy teacher, talking about all those things that people do; you have to spend hours reasearching and studying and observing and then you have to tell other people about it all. You may as well go be a rocket scientist or a doctor or a lawyer or a business executive. You'll get paid better and you'll definitely have food in your stomach. To be a writer, you have to dissect the actions of the people around you, you have to understand and explain and shock and awe, and you have to be entertaining, when you do it, like a clown with a scalpel. To be a good writer you have to be a self-dissecting-nearly-cadaver, keeping yourself alive, by some miracle, you Frankenstein, you freak of nature, you freak of nurture. You! Barely hanging on, and teaching the world about the delicate rhythms of your insides and showing them how it feels to be mutilated and to let yourself be gut over and over, again, and showing the world that you've somehow continued, somehow survived. Don't give them hope, you liar! Don't write! Don't you dare!
Besides, there's nothing worse than somebody wanting things from you and calling your skillset a gift and saying you should share it with the world for free, as if it's not a craft. They see writing everywhere, every day, why would they think it would be anything but natural to anybody? They see it on signs and in magazines, on newspaper stands, so, if you can write, then you should just write and you should just write everything for free, because they see writing all the time, in passing, for free, and it's just always around, right? They will take advantage of you: Don't write.
at the art gala.
defined by their
they try to define
how are you?
how are you?
i'm good, too!
Barrage of hail
rusty tin roof
they find you with
your head blown out
down by the pond where
your step dad likes to fish.
the gravel has your bone fragments
blood spatter and
brains scattered in it
like the tree in front of you with
the buckshot of your
nobody stopped the boy with
the shotgun and the
lawn chair and the
melted butterfinger on
so, now, in the low dust
your cracked cellphone.
your last meal:
a butterfinger wrapper.
it’s a good neighborhood.
sorry for stealing your shirts.
you’re in that lawn chair --
the one you carried under your arm through the whole
good neighborhood (it’s
a good fucking neighborhood) --
with your neck bent back
and you’re slumped slightly to the side.
you could be sunbathing:
asleep in the
sweet, oklahoma spring,
down by that funny, secret pond
in the center of all the houses
with the flowers all in bloom
in the low, electric buzz of
butter yellow sunshine
your brother’s hunting
shotgun: the mossberg.
a: "People can't live on bullshit, Frank, it lacks the proper nutritional value. Besides, how the fuck would we get them to eat it?"
b: "Cover it in fucking sugar and put it on a stick. Write a catchy jingle: Shit on a stick, shit on a stick. It's delish. It's shit on a stick."
a: "Not enough. Make it about sex. All the ladies love shit on a stick."
Tried to love some things from far away.
Not impossible, maybe easier when you're
not responsible for those
More Ghosts of Us:
All those up close things that you used to
be able to watch grow and change
sprouted legs and
too big for you, now.
Outgrow you, now.