Skinny Muse

If I could sing the blues then maybe I wouldn’t write poetry, or I’d turn my poetry into lyrics and sing them on busy street corners in the rain, with an empty cup in front of me, and when people toss in a couple of coins and perhaps a crumpled-up dollar bill, I’d scream at them, “I’m not doing this for currency, but for urgency!”  And when they give me a quizzical look and remove their offerings, I’d mumbled bitterly, resentfully, “Well, go ahead and take it all then, take my soul…” leaving them utterly confused — and that!, my Internet friends, would be my art.

Leaving people dumbfounded…

Like a stick figure with a lolling tongue.

Like a talking dog.

And it’s not them, it’s me. I have something dark, unwelcoming, that needs to be shared and I share so jubilantly — it’s too big, capacious, and unwieldy to keep for my own, I’ll drown in it alone, but together we’ll just splash around in the shallow stream of this hurt like kids playing with a broken fire hydrant spewing toxic water, but only slightly toxic, not enough to make it interesting, not enough to make fish grow second heads… there’s dancing in hell, this I know for sure.

Here, take this skull and perform Hamlet with it, or throw it against the wall like a handball, or carve it out and use it as a fishbowl. I don’t care, just take it. And take this soul, and this flesh and these clothes.  Make a puppet show out of me. Turn me into a crash test dummy. Make me finally useful.

If I got paid for this pedestrian suffering,  unending yearning, if the world would notice my woolgathering, if the public indulged my bluesy Bacchanalia — I’d leave artofstarving behind and get fat on the spotlight and the riches, I’d eat it all up so that my pores leaked halogen light and every room I walk into becomes blindingly uninhabitable, and at night I wouldn’t be able to sleep because of the recycled light emanating throughout my body from the storm-like power of my awesome celebritihood that would make the dark cower like a skittish rat, and I’d lie awake all Clockwork Orange/Scarface style in all that artificial light, bathed and baptized by the pool of my own halcyon cool.

But in the real world — the one not of my fancy, not cobbled together from these blurry ostentatious fantasies of mine — I’m a writer who is paid on the product of his work by the product of his work. That’s the end.  No cheese.  No glossy handsome picture on the jacket. Not even an ugly one. No groupies screaming my name, revealing tattoos of my poetry on their naked backs.

The crosses on the door,
crossing through the door,
she looked like a cross
of a woman and a door…

If I didn’t love this: the slavish devotion to words and their placement on the page, the emotions caused by stitching two words side by side, this titillating torture — or whatever — if I don’t do this simply to do it, then there won’t be a reward, money or soapbox or anything, ever, because the minute the motivation changes to gain is when it all disappears… without your skinny, frazzled muse, what are you?

You’re something, I suppose, and you could be a very rich something, but what good would that do? another hack writing-by-numbers, I suppose. (God I wish I could be a hack writing-by-numbers!) Sometimes when I see my student loans and car bills and that new jacket hanging in the window at Nordstrom’s for fourteen hundred dollars, fucking FOURTEEN HUNDRED! I question if I wouldn’t love the chance to sell out and suck at corporate teat, and spill drivel out and walk around in a mink made from the last snow leopard in Tibet.

I don’t know, I never got the chance.

I am where I am, ten years into this quest, still very much in love with a skinny muse… still broke but rich with experience… still wrangling words together to ride on out into the sunset of this falling, flawless sun setting… still seeking and searching for the atomic hyperbolic poem that consumes all hate in one big blast of its eternal meaning replacing it with just infinite manifestations of Love… still blessed with Grace.

If I could sing the blues I might not need poetry, or I’d be poetry, and bleed poetry, I’d ramble roads through torn countryside, I’d coat every field of pesticide, I’d be the place young lovers run to hide. If I could sing the blues, I’d turn this heart loose to roam, and bitch and moan, and spoil every microphone from San Diego to Des Moines.


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