Thursday, August 18, 2011

Word Search

I'm back in the saddle with the Writer's Challenge II. I took a month or so off for various reasons, but I decided it was time to jump back in again. Yippee!

The folks at are always welcome to new people joining the fun. You can sign up to do it just once, or you can keep coming back week after week - no pressure, no huge commitment. If you feel like giving it a whirl, click the link here. Pairings are randomly generated, but you never know, you just might be responsible for giving me my next prompt!

This week my prompt comes from Jules, who writes here. The prompt is, "There just weren't any words..."


When I first read the prompt I felt my shoulders slump forward and heard myself emit a sigh that would make Napoleon Dynamite envious. Why? Because my first thought was, "Here comes another one of my posts about death." In truth, that would be a very easy post to write. I've been through way too many of those situations where someone I love has died and I end up without words to express my feelings.

But I'm not going there again. Not this time. I'm breaking the cycle. The dead can just leave me alone today, thankyouverymuch.

Okay, so maybe that's not entirely true, because I am going to talk about death. My death. My death lasted for over two years, from the time I was 33 until I was in the middle of 35. I almost didn't make it out alive. Because when you're not really living, alive seems like a very easy thing to shut off. In fact, it almost seems like the best possible solution.

Yeah, it was that bad.

It was that bad because there just weren't any words. I had stopped writing. Well, I don't know that I stopped so much as I couldn't. It wasn't there... at all. It wasn't that I had writer's block. To me, writers block is when you have at least some small idea or inspiration, but you can't get the thing to bloom properly. This was... this was death. Emptiness. Barrenness. As hellishly cold and uninhabitable as an ice field in Antarctica.

Something inside me had died, and it was killing me.

In retrospect, it's easy to see how and why it happened. One of my dearest friends had died of breast cancer and I never properly grieved the whole experience. I was stuck in a tepid attempt at a marriage and driving myself crazy trying to make him happy because I felt like a miserable failure for not making either of us happy. I was stuck in a job that was interesting enough, but where I couldn't really relate to the people around me (I was working in the theology department at a university... enough said). I felt like I was letting everyone down.

So, somewhere along the way I stopped writing because I felt that I didn't deserve to write. Writing made me feel good and feeling good was not something I had earned. Because I wasn't writing, I pushed my emotions and feelings and thoughts so far down that they became inaccessible even to me. It wasn't just numbness, it was deadness, as if I had severed some vital creative nerve. And for me, that nerve is so very vital.

And then a friend saved me from myself.

We were having a conversation about stuff, life in general, and I worked up the courage to say to him, "I feel dead inside. Lifeless. The wind blows through me and leaves nothing but dust." He asked me when was the last time I'd felt alive. I answered, "The only time I feel alive is when I dream that I can fly." He told me to hang on to that feeling next time I dreamed it. As The Universe would have it, I had a flying dream the very next night. I woke up, feeling that same old grayness start to seep in, but with trembling, unsure fingers, grabbed on to the remnants of the dream and held tight.

It was a spark, a tiny little spark. But it was enough to light a fire. I let it burn all day. When I went home that night, I lit candles and turned off the lights, got a blank notebook and a pen, and the following came gushing out...


I don’t care
about the women
you’ve taken to your bed –
don’t care to know
if they were
blond, brunette, or redhead,
if this one
came on like a whore,
and that one a shy little girl,
if their skin
felt like dandelion fluff
or leather,
used whips
or whipped cream,
left you limp,
gobbled you whole,
screamed your name,
or prayed for mercy.
Don’t want to be
compared to,
or an amalgamation of
all the names you’ve
slept with.
Won’t be your
first girlfriend,
or mother.
What I do want –
to throw you down,
go down,
take you down,
turn you inside out,
make you forget.
I don’t dare say,
want to be god to you,
hold you to my breast
until you lose
what makes you a man,
helpless in my arms,
content to be breathing.
Want to unleash
every screaming rage,
bottomless sorrow,
overwhelming joy,
and take the same from you –
walk all over you `til you beg my name,
treat you with such tenderness
you weep my name,
touch every aching part of you –
make you laugh, make you cry,
make you know.

What I want most?
(and this stops me cold)
I want you
to need all of it
from me.


I'm happy to say that the flood of words hasn't stopped since. In fact, it's only gotten stronger. Even though the desire to write can sometimes ebb a little more than I'd like, even though ideas sometimes lie around half-baked and inedible, the words are still there. Always. They keep me alive.


  1. I'm so glad you started writing again. You're really talented.

  2. How long has it been since you wrote this? Does it still feel this way? Was it cathartic or help the feelings pass away? Its a powerful expression.


  3. well, that's a big turn on, seeing and feeling the need in ourselves. really like the way you built this one.
    good to see you're writing again.

  4. Thanks guys!

    Dean, I wrote that poem in early 1998. While I can still relate to it and it feels true, I no longer feel the anger I felt then. It wasn't so much cathartic in the sense that it helped me get rid of those feelings, but that it launched me by making me realize that I deserved more from my life. No... that I OWED my life more than I was giving it. Also, although it's a sexual poem, it really had very little to do with sex. It was more about me needing to feel that I was worth something... and I definitely feel like I'm worth something now.


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