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Not a Howl but a whimper

I wander around City Lights bookstore, dizzy by the stacks and stacks and stacks of words I love so much. I have tiny triumphs each time I see one of my beloved authors displayed, the authors I have to special order back in the land of John Grisham, Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele. The black and red chessboard floor is worn smooth by the pedestrian soles of poets and geniuses. Last night while walking to dinner with Jen Larsen and Jake, I mock the lyrics to ‘La Isla Bonita‘, and remark that having eyes like the desert was sort of beige and Jen asks don’t I have the soul of a poet? I do not. I do not. I simply stand at the doorway where the poets gather, unable to cross the threshold, knowing that I was not born with their double helix of symbolism and word paintings. I am lazy. Mine is the soul of a farm girl and there is simply too much earth beneath the fingernails of my prose. I have been tried and found guilty of verbicide. I do not think in lovely phrases but even still I chase language through the tunnels of tight bindings and ancient literary dust, even still I feel as though this is where I belong, among these stiff spines and upright titles. I pick up a Jack Kerouac that I’ve never seen and know that it makes me a smarmy tourist, but I am too greedy to put it back. I tread lightly over the floor, knight to bishop, rook takes the queen. I want to hide in these shelves, snack on elegies, lick slant rhymes from my fingers and have consonants drip from my chin, leave napkins stained with a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y. Each night I will sleep in a different nook, another steep staircase, rest my head upon volumes of greatness until I disappear, absorb like oil into paper and my voice is only the whisper of a page being turned. I pay for my book with a credit card, knowing that my life is too easy and walk out the door, feeling never good enough, never good enough, never enough, feeling as though I had left some vital thing behind, perhaps the thumb and forefinger from my right hand.

I go into Vesuvio, sit in possibly the same seat as the Beats, only they undoubtedly ordered whiskey or harsh things that claw the throat and not diet coke withasliceoflemonplease. I ask for a pen and scrawl out the above paragraph on a dry cleaning slip from my tote. I feel like crying although that is stupid, stupid, stupid this is a bright Thursday and it’s only 10:30 in the morning and women shouldn’t cry in bars into their diet cokes with lemon over a dumb thing like walking out of a bookstore. But I do, and write until I run out of dry cleaning slip, hating my handwriting and the clumsy paw holding the pen.