You write because you’re alive. Because your brain is a singular specimen, but your heart’s on loan from humanity at large.
You write to pick a lock. You write to go somewhere green. You write because the battle between the heart and the head can be a silent, choking civil war. You write because it’s the one worth fighting, on all the days.
You write because for too long, you’ve been ashamed of the gap between the person you are and the person you were supposed to become, and the words are, if not a bridge, then a photograph in which the other you grows blurrier by the sentence, the paragraph, the story, The End.
You write because you’re a narcissist. You write because you’re self aware.
You write because sometimes you surprise yourself with the things you say. And other people seem surprised by them, too. And in the exchange of that shared surprise comes another flash of sparks: you are part of a chain reaction dating back to the Phoenicians, a small, if vital component in a rolling caravan of readers and writers, all hijacking the highways of literature’s nervous system, with no horizon line in sight. And if Shakespeare excites the highest hymns, an individual’s response can still evoke the infinite. And hey--remember--you’re alive and Willy’s not.
You write because you are humbled in the sharing, made more by the transfusion. You write because your ego is often skidded, but never fully squashed. And eventually, when your skin has thickened into a callous-like armor threaded through with rejection, you write for something more than validation. You write--God help you--for truth.
You write because clarity is the golden ring.
You write because clarity is always somewhere else.
You write because you don’t know what you believe until you set it down. And even then, it takes endless trying to set it just so.
Right before it collapses in on itself.
So yes. You write as prelude to revision. You erase and rewrite because you can no longer pretend to be like Hemingway, bleeding through his perfect typewriter in that perfect Paris of a perfect past which no one was ever, actually, part of. So you write until the hemorrhage has a form. A body. Intention. Until it pumps with a finely-controlled precision. As something apart from yourself. Character. Story. With great mounds of flesh on its bones. And later, less.
You write to be reborn. You write, you write, you write.
You write because even a poem composed on a napkin isn’t worth the cost of a drink unless it’s got some iron and oxygen blacking its ink.
You write because the words are there, waiting on you. You fail to write when the fear blocks your way. You write blind--and deaf--to meet the words halfway.
You write because you want to live forever, and you’ve concluded there’s no other way, shoddy consolation that this is.
You write to beat back the sameness of everyday life, no matter how nearly perfect, or almost empty, life is. You write to keep a child’s vision. You write to play.
You write because words are your oldest and dearest friends. And sometimes, when you put them together in the most friendly fashion, they burst into song. Or even keep you up at night.
You write because you wouldn’t have it any other way. I should know.
You are an old soul masked in an adolescent's body ripping off the pages of a recycled diary and setting them to flame Before tossing the ashes in the eye of a lake and whispering your psalms through the pine-bitten dawn That Time is a phoenix with unfathomable wings
In her mind, they meet in a clearing, conscious of the cliché, but captured all the same by the beauty of their bodies beating in the sun, the electricity swimming on their swollen tongues, awareness dipping into some peasant fold, so that he moves—and she moves—and they move—as leaves move. Like a bird she will dive into his mouth.
And oh, the sky, and my, the clouds, and yes to the weight of his body being on her own, yes for the felt and fleeting clutch of an immortal light, in all this blood between the legs.
Let's sit here all day, not speaking of things for things have a way of pulling loose strings, when what I want is to extend my two legs, and maybe reach for your knee and lean just like the shadows do
The church bells rang and the cardinals flew An altar of blood keeping the two Safe across the city's walls Until their final dying fall. And later, the violin player starts and fails to make a woman from gut and hair, of air and longing
but I'll give him points for trying. For Love, what is deeper than Death but You? And how weak the word that wants Your flesh but bends before such broken bread.
They pulled you out between White’s Mill and Currier Street, about a mile from the bridge where you parked. The river is warmer than it was in March when everyone was looking and putting up signs and later on, looking less, flooding to Facebook to report what your mom said, connecting the dots to fashion a lede. You were “Missing Athens Man.” Knives in the wood after a knife-throwing act. A stain of old pain in the rearview reflection. How come we hadn’t learned our lesson? You left your keys in the ignition. There was goodness there. In the swell. Everyone shouldering hope and doubt on competing scales. It seemed the proof you were looking for: if life has worth, people will fight for it; if people fight, living is worth it. It made sense, on its face. A transitive snake grabbing hold of a tail. You had a great smile. I could see your mother’s hope in it. You wore your hair long and it made you look vulnerable. You probably would have hated this, but “sweet” is the word that springs to mind. This world is hard on gentle boys. And I keep trying to recall if the pizza delivery guy had long hair or short, the week before Christmas we got pizza at work. Why should I want to put you there? What could it possibly matter? Your mother said she’d come for you. Just hang tighter. Once the weather turned, I ran the section of the bike path that bends to the river over and over and over again, pacing myself to its muted rhythm. Its crooked spine, infrequent people. The birds were sharp—soft—both together, all at once. The wind in the grass was a woman’s dress, a mouthful of milk on a taut clothesline. My son plays baseball on the fields nearby. And you were a rustle in the thirsty brush, drawing my thoughts as my feet held the line because I saw the men huddled along the bank— sonar trawling, sirens off. The water flashing its teeth in the sun. There and back, I took the bridge, culling the edges with my eyes, reading the gaps between the lines, seeing the eddies bubble and froth, disturbed by the dead limbs, big rocks, uprooted trunks. Trespassing on something that wasn’t mine. Even now, not sure what I’m doing here. But you see how absence becomes abyss and you think God, how do they carry this? I absorbed you. Not impulsively, not all at once, but incrementally, with the herd. We swallowed you in desperate sips. You sank in, like tea, leaving leaves at the end. An archetype with a shape pulled from the caves. The lost son. Come back. Your brother has killed the fattened calf. For you. Come back. Won’t you hear? And now I want to take your pictures down, so that she won’t have to. I want to hug my children tighter, preserving their shape in a better forever. We never learn. It never makes sense. You needed more time. Pain is a bridge. The paper said you left a poem behind. It’s April now. Winter was hard. The lilac is late this year.