I spent a couple of weeks working on a piece about almost getting into a fight at a Violent Femmes concert. And I think, eventually, that will become more than just a story I tell people about how when physical altercations are aimed in my direction, or the direction of those I care about, I use testosterone-fueled language and the stereotypes people attach to my appearance to defuse them before there is anything more than emotional hurt.
But, as much as reading Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib makes you want to write about music (seriously, I just read his article on Bright Eyes and have had the first desire to listen to Fevers & Mirrors in about a decade), reading his collection The Crown Ain't Worth Much got me thinking more about his style and formatting than his subject matter. In particular, I love his poems that begin with "The Author Explains..." There's something about the honesty of the italicized text as he speaks to a specific person about something he feels deeply that makes me keep coming back and rereading them. It doesn't feel like reading poetry, it feels like overhearing someone self-omniscient perfectly explain his beliefs to someone eager to learn them.
That's not quite what I ended up with in this poem but it's what I was initially aiming for.
Sometimes, for me, the prompts I most enjoy are the ones that get away from me and produce something I wasn't expecting when I set out to write it.
The Author Explains To His Ex-Fiancee Why He Finally Cut Her Out Of His Life, And How It Has Nothing To Do With How His Boyfriend At The Time Hated Her
I've never had to choose
between love and family
And you were almost both
And it's hard for me to abandon either
But it's easy for me to dismiss neither and almost
And you were neither love nor family but almost both
And your taste was always so neither
And your hatred was so almost Christian but
neither Christ-like nor religious
you could almost swallow jesus when we talked
but then he'd get all hairball
and there's your savior in a puddle of sick
on the couch between us
You looking at me
like my tongue was a sponge
or you could pray my heart into a paper towel
And I would stare at you because you are not a cat
you're a grown-ass human
with a daughter the age we were when we met
and you have never had to clean up your own mess
and maybe you forgot that i am not on-call for you
I love a man
who has Old Testament problems
Like someone burned his city due to a misunderstanding
and his mother is a pillar of dust
Like his father wants him to save two of every memory they shared
so they have something to talk about in the future
but lord it looks like it will never stop raining
I know you don't understand what i see in him
Your neighborhood has been sunny your whole life
that time you don't speak about
from back before
you and jesus were on a first named basis
Maybe i love the strange weather in genderless eyes
and you are so content to sit in your california
and cast shade at our cold fronts
I haven't abandoned you
because i've forgotten what i saw in you
I simply can't stop seeing who you used to be
and how afraid she would be
of who you have become
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