to: Gordon Flanders <email@example.com>
from: Babe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Tues, Dec 22, 2015 at 4.53 PM
subject: wake up New York!
a heel grounds my intentions to dust. I want to describe pain. I’ve already deleted seven paragraphs. What is more dime store than a headache? But I also want to tell you how it’s invaded my writing, taken it for its own, it’s not even my voice that I hear in my posts, it is something else. It scares me. Shall I succumb to it?
I watched the film, Frida, and when her father asks Frida how she is, she responds, ‘How am I feeling? I can’t even remember how it felt before the pain.’
But my pain is transient, unlike Frida’s, it is forgetful, tea bags left in tea pots and remembered only when we do dishes; it leaves me alone for hours, for days, then here it is again! and it is inconceivable how you could have blanked out the screwdriver in the eyeball, the brain pulled out through the nose, the hole drilled in the skull…
This is a grim email. I should stop. My lover bought me a book of Frida’s art. And it is visceral and pushy. I told him: I think I might be going insane. What if writing is jumping off a cliff? He said, why don’t you start by jumping off a small cliff and see what happens. I think this is why I stay with him.
And then in your letter, you wrote: ‘I should do anything rather than swim in that darkness. I should do anything rather than be this person.’
It is selfish but I hope you don’t become something other than ‘this person’. I am already a match struck and tossed into the gutter.
On a lighter note: I saw Star Wars twice and believe that the force is real.
from: Gordon Flanders <email@example.com>
to: Babe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 11:07 AM
subject: sympathy pains
Has it been two weeks? Did we agree on once a week? I’m sorry but I’m sure you don’t mind. Really there’s no point in stabbing the river of time with red pins and hoping it will behave.
I had a dream about you. I woke up sweating and scared, but not because I drowned in the end.
On a different night than that one, I woke up after drinking spiced rum and had a terrible headache. I don’t drink spiced rum, I don’t get headaches and I have a low tolerance for physical pain. I lay there believing I would die, like the first time I smoked pot. I thought of you, and wondered how you were able to get anything done at all. After two glasses of Alka-Seltzer and twenty minutes of wishing I had morphine or Vicodine, the headache suddenly disappeared. I felt high, then, and I thought: have I been living like this the whole time? In a state of comparative euphoria?
I can’t believe you read aloud, or had someone read aloud, your last letter. I tried to listen to a similar link under one of your poems, but it didn’t work for me. You are like a phantom now. I hear your voice speaking your thoughts, but I don’t see you. I am afraid to record my voice and afraid to hear what I’ve written read out loud. I am not afraid of ghosts.
I have written nothing. I have read nothing. I work and work. Work is the best, and a certain numbness, a merciful numbness, said DH Lawrence. I stopped reading Thoreau. No time for that, not even on the train, where I have to think about things that I am forgetting. I’ve had Ham on Rye on my desk for three months. I thought having it nearby would facilitate the process of ingesting it. Maybe it has been six months. At least its yellow and blue cover match the white and brown desk.
I realized in a dream that the funniest people exist over an ocean of sadness. The dream was so strange, because I was doing normal things, and there was nothing bizarre about it. I was standing near my couch, feeling like I should die. I think in my dream I had the day off, which was nice for a change, or was it? I was feeling so sad and I thought it was stupid to do, but then I realized that the price of greatness was to be forever floating on a sea of something horrid and gut-wrenching, whether it be sadness, self-loathing, hatred, whatever. I suppose some great artists can sing from a garden of love. I suppose I am wrong. But what I realized in the dream was that if this was the cost of creating great art, I should instead write funny stories about one dimensional people. I should do anything rather than swim in that darkness. I should do anything rather than be this person.
If I am close to assimilating the darkness below, I am also more keenly aware that I, and you, are but matches struck and tossed into the gutter. If I speak of abysses below or above, of mastering or surrendering, perhaps I would do better to shut up and experience my moment.
All the best, forever and ever,