Post Mortem

I am again stuck in the vacuum that comes from finishing things. As of today, I have completed work on two new books, and right on cue, possibly the second I hit the send button of the email I sent to the book publishing place, the feeling of, “everything finished, nothing left to do,” swarmed me.

It must be a question of direction and thinking; for months now my thoughts have been dominated by these two books: what state they are in, how to best edit them, how to make them better, what will be on the cover, what will I do about the problems I’ve found in them, do they suck, why do they suck, am I saying”fuck” too much in the poems, how to distribute them, how to pay for the proofs, how to pay for the copies, who to give them to etc.…

Now all that thinking is finished, and my mind is a blank canvas once again. In a nominal situation, I would immediately be overjoyed with this, for now I could work on literally anything, and any pet project could now become something to put rubber to road on, and to tear into and start doing the job on.

Alternatively, I could now sit back and relax and not think about anything for a while; kick back and enjoy some downtime without an avalanche of thoughts about not working hard enough clouding up any moment where I sit still for more than ten fucking seconds.

Except both of those situations seem elusive in this, the first moments of nothing.

To make matters worse, right after I finished sending off the two books to the magical place that makes them into things I can hold in my hand, I finished the book I had been reading as well. Now there was a hole in that area of my life, and a whole wide world of books I could choose to fill it. Which is terrible! How am I supposed to decide what to read now? I could literally read anything! Anything in the history of literature is open to me, and I’m supposed to just pluck one tome off the wall and have at it? Ugh. What misery.

I know, I know. This is all just a bunch of sniveling whining that nobody needs to read or hear about, and that many people would just up and stab somebody to be in this same position. But goddamn it, this shit bothers me, and I’m sure someone else has felt the same way in their time. Also, there is always that worry of, “okay, now I’ve finished something, and that might mean that there is nothing else.” That the books I finished might be the last good ideas I ever have, that the blank slate is not a canvas, but a barren wasteland, and I would be better off just heading back to work, cashing the checks, and waiting on a white picket fence and listening books on tape and going to be early and buying a Prius and buying new socks and knowing where my money is going and getting a credit card and watching talent shows and not caring and saying to people at parties that I wrote a book once etc.

It just sounds all so adult. Which is the antithesis of what I want in my life. So I need to find something to do, and fast. Or I’ll end up writing more self-focused dreck like this fucking blog post, and nobody needs that.

Oh, those two books should be ready for everyone to order by the end of the month. Keep your eyes peeled.

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Almost Dead Pens

All these pens are almost dead
and I can’t tell which ones will make it to
the end of this poem.

I pick one
and write faster.

Waiting on a line that doesn’t finish
waiting for a dead end
gripped by
THAT SENSE OF DANGER!!!

Because I know myself
I know that if this pen dies
I won’t finish this poem
I won’t retrace these steps
and re-run the right tool over thoughts
that broke for a hole in my mind
like prisoners in an escape attempt.

It looks though
like we all made it
poems, poets, and prisoners all.

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Don’t Take The Money

I’m having a late night dialogue with myself
among cheap sheets
listening to cheap ventilation pump bad air through small rooms
in a corner of the world devoid of the things that make getting out of bed
a worthy pursuit.

I ask myself, “why?”
I question choices
I backtrack through memories for reasoning and alibis
as to why I got myself into this
as to why I forced myself into this antithesis of myself
in some vain attempt to mature and grow
and pay the bills.

And there!
in that last thought!
As I flip a cheap pillow
in search of vague comfort that won’t be found by a body
that doesn’t want to find comfort
is the answer to my questions.

Bills
I’m doing this to pay bills
I’m doing this to keep a marginalized side of my life alive and kicking
and this job is an iron lung for the parts of life
I never really thought all that interesting
and this job is medical equipment that I can’t simply unplug from
now that its fluids course with mine.

No matter how much desire rankles me
and tells me to run for an open stretch
of road that looks like an oasis
I still
simply
cannot
go.

If I could go back
to times before this
and talk to myself
“don’t take the money” would be a mantra:
a mantra for a fridge post-it note
a mantra to tattoo on my forearms
and to write with my tongue on the thighs of lovers
so as to never forget it even in moments of bliss.

Yet,
it’s too late now
for advice tossed back into time
to the un-listening ears of a younger self.

So I am doomed to cheap sheets
and cheap pillows
in a small room
in a place I loathe
with a job that no longer snaps the live wires of my brain.

And even an answer to my questions
still doesn’t give me
a way
out.

But I roll over again
and utter out loud
a hopeful
“Yet.”

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Too Smart

People like to say to me,
“You’re too smart for this.”

I had these thoughts while I was standing outside
smoking a cigarette
(ashes dancing in the wind like those little black flies)
and watching the construction site across from me
slow birthing a condo.

For some reason
“You’re too smart for this,”
irks me.

It makes me think that everyone thinks that the job I do
is only for dumb people
that most jobs that aren’t in an educational pursuit
are for Neanderthals sans clubs
who toil away without a thought in their head.

However,
nobody cares how smart you are
because smart doesn’t pay the bills
my landlord doesn’t care how smart I am if the rent is late
the people sending me bills don’t care
and smart have never once gotten me groceries
my reading list has never picked up the check
and my knowledge of dead poets has never paid the health bill
(on time, at least.)

The phrase beats up on people
makes them feel trapped
takes every garbage truck driver who reads Joyce
and makes them uneasy.

We all have to go to work
because it’s the smart thing to do
because we can’t think our way out of this raw deal
so we remain smart and unappreciated for it.

No,
not unappreciated
because only someone who was smart, regardless of how well read
knows that leaving it all behind and fending for yourself
is the dumbest thing you can do.

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Don’t Lend Me Dishes

Don’t lend me dishes
or travel mugs
or Tupperware containers filled with delicious food
that you probably cooked for me
after you found out my diet is 90% cereal.

You’re not going to get them back
because I’ll forget
because I have too much on my mind
too much thinking to do about other things
to remember to come over and give you back your dishes
or your spare plate
or your bottle opener
or your cheese grater.

I assure you
they’re not getting any use while they’re here
in my apartment.

They’ve been washed and cast aside
pushed into a foreign shelf among 100 coffee cups
like they’re at a house party full of strange people
that they can’t talk to.

If you really want them back
send me a message or something
because otherwise I won’t remember
it’s not because I don’t like you
it’s not because I don’t really care
it’s because I’m thinking about something else
(something probably less important than being polite
but all the same.)

Also, thank you for the soup
it was delicious.

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Thanks to Dave Davies

I’m not like everybody else
I cannot swim in seas of happiness
drown in warm sunshine
and float in pools of endless positive thinking.

I guess I’m just not built that way
that I’m missing that critical piece
that allows me to control my thoughts
for the better.

So I’m left with this bitter chassis
that hates the heat
and many other things
and refuses to be bought by easy love and easy escapes
that would otherwise save me from myself
and the things that I wish I could enjoy.

I’m not like everybody else
and yet I am
because there must be others like me
I am not that unique
I am not that special
and that I am the only one that feels this way
in these moments.

We only need to find each other
to find others that feel like this.

And then what?
Do we become miserable together?
Do we multiply those feelings of angst to apex?
Does that destroy us in the process?

Probably better off to remain alone
to say, “I’m not like everybody else,”
to empty walls
for the sake of myself
and others.

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The Worst Cigarette of All Time

Northern Alberta
a wind howls through everything
and in the corner of a smoke pit I lean against a chain link fence
in the middle of a thunderstorm
hearing the rain smack the pavement with zeal
as it knocks the loogies around.

A garbage bag someone tied up for some protection
ripples and cackles
and complains
as the water that collects on it
pours off into an empty tin of beans someone left as an ashtray.

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