What to do about my books? I can hardly stand to read my own writing anymore. I am juggling four or five projects. No time for Tin Hats, but here I am writing whatever comes into my mind. Wait a second, I write books and poems the same way, except I take longer, I think harder.
I wonder about what a reader like you might understand. Am I really the bastard I appear to be? Do I hate people? Have I run God out of my life and tumbled him into the street? (Don’t get mad. God isn’t dead to me, he’s only on vacation in the Bahamas nursing a sprained ankle.) Do you think my writing is the truth? It might be to you. That is the wonder of writing. A way to stretch out pieces of reality like leather straps against the mast and I’m a long way from home, floating with cold commands and a belly ache.
I’ve written more than one million words over the past three years. (Didn’t I already tell you that?) I am often desperate in my feelings and the computer keyboard is my shaman, my dog trick, my old memory.
So here I am, killing time beneath the sun and the delusion of my days. Maybe I can be helpful. I offer unsolicited advice to other writers, to readers, to followers. I ask them if they want “positive criticism” knowing that nobody wants that sort of thing, people want to hear how great they are.
A few days ago I wrote a story called I Need an Editor or a Handjob and I got a response from a girl in India who was “interested”. Finally, something hopeful, but then she said she was talking about being my editor: another flip of the coin coming up tails.
It is my belief that most people are partial to heads, red, and the numbers seven and three. We’d rather take a right turn than a left, be at the beach than the desert, and if somebody says “tell me the truth,” we usually lie. Unless we are friends and then we can make each other cry in a forgiving way. Friends are like books. They begin, wander, and then end. Usually it’s a mystery or tragedy, and with luck, a comedy. Laughing friends in stretch pants and flip-flops are the best. Getting fat for them is an adventure across Africa.
The internet is full of bad writing. I know. When somebody is writing better than me I like to give them all the encouragement I can…to keep writing better than me. I am not jealous in that sort of way. Nobody reads anymore anyway, so if I hand out praise to others, well that is similar to the old bearded man, dressed in rags, opening the bomb shelter door and inviting a few survivors inside to taste the last bit of soup in the boiling can. Does anyone have a cigarette?
I went to post a poem today, but I kept getting triple spacing. So I decided to turn the poem into a prose piece. Here it is. I call it Piles.
Poems are very personal items like when I browse in a woman’s lingerie store. I start feeling the merchandize and slowly gravitate to the pile of sale panties. They are marked down a thin arm and a long leg.
A knockout sales girl walks up.
“Are you shopping for your wife or some babe with a feather?”
I mumble a vague no, without a care, only a stare.
“Oh, then maybe it is for your inflatable doll or perhaps a Brittany Setter?” I think I love this girl. Maybe I should kidnap her. My bicycle is chained outside ready to go.
“I’ll take a XXXL please and one toll sticker.”
“Will that be cash or credit?” she asks.
My publisher sent me a bunch of emails on how to sell books. They grew into pineapples marching with torn pants, yellow devices piled high in a balancing act, free and self-redeeming. I didn’t understand any of it. Maybe I didn’t want to understand. Is there a difference?
Not if you have a gun in your hand and you fire into a crowd of blacks and browns, whites and gays, nuns and papier-mâché, everybody running for the church door, falling in a pile, trying to get inside, screaming; a photo to make an editor smile.
Later they ask why you did it and you say “there were stones in my eyes. I felt threatened.”
“But were you really threatened?”
Then it starts to dawn on everyone that it doesn’t matter. There’s no difference.
After my shopping spree and thoughts on book marketing, I head into a bar. Not necessarily to drink, but maybe for some stimulating conversation. There was a drunk talking loudly about writing poetry on the asses of whores.
“I’d tell you what I’d do…shit, I’d just bend them over a bar stool like delayed doom and pen about farmers burning crows in a pile. A travesty far removed from nature, but still a few of the birds living, clawing flames that wrought higher. It’d be a hell of a poem and I’d pay her not to bathe for a month!”
We all laughed and I decided to have a drink. I even bought the ass poet another round and he asked to borrow a twenty.
As I sat there I thought about getting my little team together for a month of collecting bodies, piling them up like pickup sticks. When the heaps topped out, we threw them into the lava cracks and then dumped bags of quick lime down on top of them: black corpses turned bakers, ghosts, whites with suspect privilege: no way to get out of parking tickets. We had to be careful not to toss the living into the hole. I appointed a gatekeeper. He was an old man without teeth.
I stood in front of the pile at sunset and imagined Vogue magazine coming for a shoot. The sunset was beautiful and a pretty girl in a nice dress would make a perfect photo. No space between breath and death, she’d have to step upon bodies like a bankrupt country with glass skin.
Maybe the model could help with the lift.
“Hey,” I’d say. “Grab this arm and lets drag her to the edge,” and over the side we’d push her as children played nearby. Into the dark mulch she’d fall, all slow motion, no pool parties, no bikini, no catered lunch, just me and the model and the children playing at sunset.
When I finally got home, I smoked a joint. Poetry is vanity. Lifetimes in peanut shells as if someone might care to eat.
Nothing to worry about, I’m not crazy enough to be a good writer. I’ll never be institutionalized. Oh, maybe if I had kidnapped the shop girl or if I was the guy with the gun shooting into the crowd or if I had fallen into the hole and spent the night with a 1,000 other bodies. Then maybe I could write a decent word or two.
As it is, I can only turn out piles of this shit.
I blame it on the worms. They wave to me with outstretched little hands like white flags on a battle field. This must be a trick, a fake surrender in my Mexican toilet bowl.
So there it is, Piles turned to prose. Fuck it. Where is all this going?