Hello from Mexico City. I am writing from my roof to tell you that today was an easy day. I worked my tutoring job for five hours without getting tired, I didn’t feel a single moment of doubt that I could make it as a writer, and I read six poems in English and Spanish from Mexico City Blues by Jack Kerouac, adding some words to my Spanish vocabulary.
Reading poetry in Spanish is still hard for me. Not having infinite feelings of doubt is still hard for me. A few years ago, after I realized I would not be happy being an English teacher or even a writing teacher in a normal school setting, that I wouldn’t be happy if I had to work for someone else who would tell me when I could sleep and when I could leave the city and when I could write (indirectly, by way of being too tired to write or care about writing after forty hours a week of doing something I probably wouldn’t like much), that’s when I started having frequent episodes of doubt.
I guess we all wonder if we’re good enough, and most of the time we don’t gamble on ourselves. That’s why the US works so well right now. Most of the corporate CEO’s wouldn’t survive if everyone decided they’d rather focus on what they actually like than being underpaid and overworked in the rat race to simply get by, holding out hope to one day be the CEO. I know it’s not that easy. I know people have to feed their kids and heat their homes. But I had an opportunity, or I made an opportunity based on what I had in my vicinity and in my mind, to gamble on myself, and I took it. Here I am in Mexico City. I write poems on people’s bodies. I write digital letters to everyone and no one. Do people read any of it? Do people read? I wonder if I should say why creative work is important.
Um. Reading creative work is important because it makes the wheels of your brain turn in ways that watching things doesn’t. Those wheels are the engines of our individual human spirits. It opens up worlds that aren’t in front of us and makes us think about them so that we can feel empathy in situations we have not personally experienced. Poetry in particular holds its magic in its ability to translate the mess inside so we understand ourselves and each other.
When I was in college, I remember learning about Jack Spicer, a poet from the mid-twentieth century San Francisco Renaissance who claimed his poetry was channeled from somewhere, that he was in some way receiving signals as if he were a radio, and writing it down. He was an alcoholic, and a lot of people thought he was nuts because of saying things like this, but what if all he meant was that the information he was transmitting in his poems was coming from the collective interior world, the interpretation of emotions into language? I think that’s what he meant. I think that’s what I’m doing when I’m writing poetry, and when I read certain poems, it’s like someone is holding my metaphysical hand on my journey through existence.
Take an experience, feel high from it or feel fucked up about it or feel a deep sense of meaninglessness, read a poem, feel connected somehow. That happens to me. The pieces snap together. It could happen to a lot of people if they gave poetry a chance. I really believe that.
When I started Sex on Sundaze, I was thinking about how to get more people to give poetry a chance, and in that I had to immerse myself in this often disgusting world of marketing hell, lest the visibility of the thing I wanted to be visible would become once again invisible. The thing is, marketing isn’t necessarily gross; marketing is really just figuring out how to reach people. There are honest ways and there are trick ways. The line is so fine though. And on bad days when it feels like all that anyone seems to care about are things that are being sold to them in the trick ways, I consider moving to a place where I can live out my life on a lost beach away from the garbage media that consumes so much of the internet, because, why bother? But then I remember how much other people have affected me by sharing their writing with the world, and I come back.
The teeter-totter of all this makes up the greater part of my life. Is it ever going to stop? Hard to say. I bet it’s a kind of fuel to the process of creation, so maybe better that it doesn’t?
Also, I wrote another stream-of-consciousness piece, because I have been noticing how it extracts strange and cool things from my unconscious inner life. Here it is.
Bricks don’t count for falling, said the bones at the bottom of my psyche. Once a girl stole my sweatshirt saying it was destiny and of course no bricks could have saved me then. Exchange me for an angel and see where it goes. Wild modesty isn’t a thing anymore, not under this moon, the one that chokes up every time I bring up funerals or bridges. I know what you’re thinking, what kind of cantaloupe talks to the moon, but I am the cash that says it works. Here she goes about night again, but night has an all-time record for dreams. For infinity’s peace of mind, this was written down and sent to every relative with a candle floating on the tide of their sanity. Before silence existed, there was no such thing as parties. And who knew there was such a time before the invention of silence, after all.