I was released into the wilderness, a penitent. I escaped back to civilization. I was captured and released at sea, a recalcitrant. I escaped back to civilization. Why are you such an asshole, my mother said. Because I was raised by assholes. I was released once more into the wilderness. Third times the charm, my mother said.
The furniture said, build me a man. The man said, can’t you see I’m building furniture. The poet said, compose me a poem. The man said, I can’t be a thesaurus and dictionary. The composer said, write me a symphony. The man said, I lost all my semi-quavers in a fire. The fireman said, go to five alarms. The man said, can’t you see I’m burning books. The sailor said, take a bearing. The man said, the sun and stars are in our baffles. The astronomer said, chart the heavens. The man said, gravity vacuumed up heaven and earth.
What is a poem, the poet said. A poem is not truth, I said, truth is driving across the Plains toward the setting sun and seeing the moon rise in your rearview mirror. Truth is just words, the poet said, spread across a vast ocean of nothingness. Words become death, destroyer of worlds, I said. I take words out of their comfort zone and use them in ways the truth cannot accept, the poet said. The truth is, I said, you should leave words be, catch and release, let them swim the seven seas, rest at the bottom of the deepest ocean where light is not disturbed by your mangling attempts at writing. Ah, but you see, the poet said, the ocean is the only truth I acknowledge, everything else is scurvy and dead trees.
Michael McInnis lives in Boston and served in the Navy chasing white whales and Soviet submarines. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in Chiron Review, Cream City Review, Deadly Writers Patrol, Naugatuck Review, Oxford Magazine, Unlikely Stories, and Yellow Chair Review to name a few. His third book, Secret Histories, was published by Červená Barva Press.