on the achy joints of writing

Take a break today.
You don’t have to write anything,
or share anything. Not today.

Be lazy. Do those things you used to.
You know, before you dreamt yourself
a writer, and don’t go getting cocky
about that title, I can
strip it
from you
at a moment’s notice. This is when
my empty mug glares
at me and says

what did you do
with the last hour and was
any coffee ever really in here?

Do you have evidence
other than soggy, grounded joy
of warm remains in the filter
and a telltale residue ring at the bottom
of the pot? I remain unconvinced.

Don’t write today. No reason.
A gentle, non-sequitur knock
on my breastplate threatens
mutiny by exposing my lie.

If I don’t write
today, this day
the beetles will crawl
back out of my ear.

They’ll soldier down my arm, tickle
my left hand into submission before
splitting their hardened shells, shaking
free of any ear wax, loose wings to
make their escape. I will swear

that they’ve also flicked
me off with a thanks for nothing
in blue-gold buggy morse code
as they hit sky to find
the next poor sap

dripping into his empty coffee mug
at some hipster café with better-dressed
scone inhabitants he side-eyes longingly
while his stomach makes obscene demands.

In they crawl, as he tries
focusing on the weather
hoping for rain

because his belly
doesn’t understand the difference
between an icky utterance of hobby
becoming the plump, juicy underbelly
of passion that insists impolitely
on the devil making three.

When obsession slices into compulsion
and the pier’s edge is delirious
and close I embrace the pink kiss
of ocean spray, and beneath
salted, swollen lids I know
that he has to keep going.

To see if the lovers will leap
off to find each other, arms
split and chests burst
open, splayed like oysters
tossed over a rocky bottom.

Or else
they’ll die in
an apathetic, half-written
non-epic account of their last
boring lovemaking

session, when no one bothered
looking for scented candles. Lights
remained out. The momentum, half-
hearted. The Labrador slept
between them, after.

He has to stay there,
because he’s rooted
in me, does he know this?
This may be getting odd
but he must know, and I’ll buy

him another
damn cup of coffee, because
I’m invested, he’s invested, we’re
gushing out all over the place
in vaguely edited

and mainly
inconsequential art, can’t he see
that
we must continue?!

We suffer, separate
but together. I don’t even know
his name and I’m no longer
certain if I’ve made him up
or if I’ve been staring far

too long at the abstract
painting on the wall that gapes
back like bloodied fried eggs
or smashed breasts
and I won’t ask because
it matters less

than the coffee, and it would
distract my brain from cycling
‘round these spokes, dueling
with me in my always
search, a near-perfect phrase
almost pedaled out.

You know
the one
where I get to pretend

I’m not a lonely lunatic.

A little longer and I’ll stab
it down with this fork, corner it
in the alley to make it
bear its teeth
so that I might yank
out a canine as a rotten memento.

The readers
will understand, because
they’re also the writers, grappling
at the same
slow death
as our blue ink ekes out

spilling combinations
to life’s secrets, told
and resold

in a way unique
to the grisly, ancient homeless
man beneath the bridge, forever
with his newspaper blanket
of stories

no one got to read that day.

Knowing
a crippling inability
to step away from
the words the words the words
which bind him to that worn, wooden
stool in an infinite, immobilized
spinning
of us —

starving, but full.

Empty, but completely
explicably spellbound
only by those who know
we’re in need of our next
collective fix.

I’ll pay you next Tuesday
is what I respond, I’ve got a condition…
an itch…nevermind
is what
I cease to say

to the lady who wants
non-existent currency to flow
into the other end
of the line, and here
is where you know

this is all
a story, because writers
never answer the phone
on Mondays.

Written by

Holes and a series of rabbits — my debut poetry collection — now available! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089RRRGXX/

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