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True Imperfection

It’s somewhat painful to admit (although I suspect I’m part of a large¬†crowd in this), but I’ve struggled most of my life with starting stories and with finishing what I start. One of the biggest reasons for this is because of my frustrations with what I wrote being an imperfect expression of what was in my head. Over the past few years, I’ve worked on getting past that. Chuck Wendig’s recent blog post on the topic is an excellent reminder to kick the idea of perfection in the junk and just get on with writing, glorifying in its imperfections. A literature professor in college once told me something to the effect of “the best writing has cracks in it,” which makes a lot of sense to me.

My big worry lately has been finding critique partners and editors who “understand what I’m trying to do with my fiction”…which seems impossible, of course, because isn’t my fiction unlike anyone else’s? At a writers panel at Planet Comicon this past weekend, an author told me, “You’re making it like finding your ‘soul mate.’ Don’t worry about it so much. You’ll find people who can help you write better.” That hit me upside the head like a brick. Writing the “perfect” fiction, finding the “perfect” help, reaching the “perfect” audience, is all like trying to find the “perfect” romantic partner. Ain’t no such thing, so just give up and embrace the messiness and uncertainty and incompleteness.

As Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Marcel Duchamp said, “I believe that the artist doesn’t know what he does.” Or from Zen Buddhism: “Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.” Or as Dory sang in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

ADDENDUM: Here’s a video of the aforementioned Planet Comicon panel.

Ceremony of Doubt

your opaline phrases & fragments are dashing
up against the cliffs of distraction
emboldened & electric blue
decided against the butterfly time

& still
your similes are so fucked up
infecting my language with catastrophic
danceable poetry for mass derangement
but nevermind
it’s forgettable
all ink & drunkenness
not tooth & claw

your jazzy attempts at sub rosa frequencies
are precious
& possibly ill-advised
when you could easily freeze a bicycle
& mount it on the top of a cathedral
like so

fluttering like pigeons
on the mad magician’s stage
turning to flame
in a clockwork eye
your castaway clauses & cascading words
will be forgotten tomorrow
i guarantee it

Geometries of the Sleepless Hotel

The memory we used to share is no longer coherent. It continues to break down and fragment, slipping away from me like a jellyfish caught in the undertow. Although memory is nothing like a jellyfish, it’s more like…I can’t remember what it’s like. This is how bad things have gotten. (Continued)

Crushed

let me tell you about my crush
she’s cute & she’s smart & she makes me laugh
she dances in my head
when i’m not being distracted

she’s vulnerable & strong
she’s a work of art in motion
she’s a song from the back rafters
she’s a smile on the face of the night

she’s far away, under unknown skies
i’m too young for her
she’s too young for me
& she’ll never never know how i feel about her

she casts a silver shadow
when she slips through secret streets
she has an aura of raw sugar
she wears her heart on her sleeve

my crush is not perfection
my crush is not a dream
she’s cracked & she’s chipped & she’s scarred
& she can never be with me

she’s far away, on her own adventures
i’m too young for her
she’s too young for me
& i doubt she even remembers my name

Miss Fortune and the Sapphire Angel

One of the most sought after comic books in all of comics fandom is Fortune Comics #1, featuring the only appearance of “Miss Fortune, Mystic Wonder,” published by Wallace Brothers Books in June, 1940. Joseph and Sam Wallace lost all their money and their business, thanks to Sam’s gambling addiction, just after Fortune Comics #1 came out and their backstock of magazines was pulped, making that comic book incredibly rare and incredibly valuable. (Continued)

The Golden Mean Old Man

i don’t know
i don’t know
i really don’t know who i am or
where this is or what
color i oh so colorfully feel
in
the heart of my head
in
the center of my soul
in
the brokendown burrow where my frightened ghost survives

i don’t know
i don’t know
i don’t know
i don’t know where my rainbow is
or where it ends
or how my skies are colored true blue
when
i feel so shattered & scattered
& nothing really matters
but the matter of madness
& the jam & the butter
& the ravens that ravage my rascal reign

i don’t know
i don’t know
i don’t know if anyone knows what they know
but i know
that i
don’t
know