Recrafting prose or polishing turds?—you make the call.
I’ve put it off long enough. I’ve finally embarked on the task of digging through my last trip’s notebooks. I’ve set out on a spelunking mission through the email addresses, phone numbers and crudely drawn street maps that fill the stained pages, excavating hieroglyphic scrawling and jagged phrases in search of literary gems I just know are in there, buried amid the recesses of black ink/bat feces.
As per usual, these disembodied stanzas and half-poems don’t seem quite as brilliant as they did in the moment, but some aren’t so bad. I plan on bugging some writing friends of mine for feedback (that means you, Jacob), then packaging up what survives in a nice electronic bow and sending it to Literary Bohemian, a site I have a crush on. What’s left will be put on here.
Don’t think of it as a literary scrap heap, but rather that first post-Thanksgiving plate of leftovers—before you’ve gotten sick of turkey. At least that’s the spin I’m putting on it.
One of the great things about my last trip was how much I wrote. I was on fire. It’d been a long time since I’d felt that way, completely consumed, possessed. It’d been a lost couple of years, basically not writing at all; I could feel it all swimming around in there, very far beneath the conscious surface, but nothing would come out. Literary constipation. As uncomfortable as it sounds.
To my delight, I actually wrote a fair amount of poetry on my trip. Which feels more like writing to me than first-person narrative—I don’t know why. I love narrative, but it sometimes feels too easy. Just me mouthing off, you know. Of course, I find my witty insights endlessly amusing and fascinating, but I still love the rawness of writing poetry, the way an image will overpower you, how the best poems feel like they write themselves. It’s a tough place for me to tap into these days, and it sometimes feels like traveling is the only way to give my poetic prowess the necessary kick in the ass. Shock therapy via passport stamps.
In any event, here’s a fragment I wrote in Tangier about, well, writing and feeling like you’re in the pocket. And there’s plenty more where it came from…
I’m writing again
all the time
even when there’s not a pen in my hand,
always, in some back basement
of my brain, a hunched figure
banging typewriter keys,
with only a street level window
against the endless passing of feet.
I can’t keep up
with the furious clatter,
the singing of the keys,
their persistent tapping,
not for permission
but to be unleashed.