“I’m Not A Writer. I Just Feel Shit.”

 

jeremiah walton on the road
from Puebla to Oaxaca, Mexico

ON THE ROAD, NOT PUBLISHING,
& MY SYMPTOMS’ FAVORITE GHOSTS

It’s difficult to maintain any consistency w. publishing when you’re constantly on & off the road, & when off, squeezing extra hours out of sand clenched in that boss’ fist to catch enough cash to reach that next gig, repair the car, that whole, “yo, we got three days to get from Boston to San Francisco” mentality. It caught up to me. Began staking healing on mileage, on the next slow-down.

I burned out. A slump manifested.

& as that slump rose its sunrise spine over a horizon of submissions, social media scheduling, emails demanding, & all that noise that seems to be expected/associated w. “being a writer,” I began to notice how much bullshit I’d surrounded my personal process of writing with. I wouldn’t be deemed a “success” by societal standards, yet I was sweating nervous hurricanes blind to their anxiety to have a lick of that notoriety.

It’s hilarious how that mind-state still resonates. This post feels so pivotal, & important, & part of that is because I’ve been gone long enough that no one’s here to hear.

Importance cultivated in the lack of audience. Like, the performance would still be going on if no one else was there. & that can feel authentic, or sad, hilarious, all of it.

It’s funny how important this feels when there are nuclear bombs to dismantle. 

nyc subway jeremiah walton
2015 NYC Poetry Festival

“HOW DO ANY OF YOU SOCIALIZE SOBER?”

The above ^^title’s^^ a line from a poem I wrote years ago, & still lack answers that can walk a straight line, drive, or deal w. the cops—but I’m thinking that came w. the territory (minus the police) of trying to bury being uncomfortable in the literary communities I craved acceptance from & didn’t feel a part of (or able to be, or know how to be), along w. a general “let’s just intellectualize what’s rolling thru your heart &, w. logic, we’ll figure this shit out,” among other feelings of shame & self-loathing that only gained space to breathe-acknowledged when the heart was numbed safe to the pulse of mirrors staring back at you glazing them w. softer light.

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?

This 19 year-old, narcissistically dependent puddle of self-loathing begged potential stampedes of approval from others’ regarding how my “words fell together,” that they were “real enough,” that folks could, “feel it.”

Then a 20 y/o ego cranked the pressure till it cracked, smoking whatever manifested to write a word, run a press, get out of bed, have sex. It was 2015, & I’d landed in Tucson to kick a show down on 4th Ave, at Cafe Passe, w. a mixed-crew of local titans & talented writers passing thru, my entrance to the city had me feeling high enough on its own.

The folks I’d come from Florida with, my partner at the time & a childhood homie, were living out of a Mongolian Yurt, close to downtown, & a part of a growing community of dirty kids, travelers, & odd-balls coming out to make an extra buck & kick it around the gem show.

Hell, the Yurt’s owned by a poet whose words melt the paper they’re written on, & she let us host readings out of it. We escalated, in crew & range & promotions, till we ended up hosting two bonfire open mics w. eclectic sets ranging from a homie hitting his feature w. a 15 minute freestyle, to travel-punk-acoustic-soul-noise-something, veterans, activists, an eclectic mix of identities & art forms.

The core crew of that time ranged from 16 y.o. suburban virgins to 26 y.o. lieutenants. We made a strange mix, moved into a Condo, & settled into the collapse that some of us saw coming, most of us, especially my rose-tinted glasses, boiling the world w. naive trust.

The following mileage brimmed w. some hella strange gigs, that many literary folks, musicians, etc, wouldn’t even call “shows.” Our first West Coast tour lead us to kicking shoes off in Oakland streets, slugging whiskey like we could bruise the demons hiding in the bottom of the bottle, & set ourselves free from ourselves.

We failed, failed again, & hopped the BART to San Francisco where morning opened hungover in a side-walk ciphers of poems shared among people that became homies fast bc none of us knew how to kick it & get down w. that literary community, even though, comparatively, they were fucking wild.

Or maybe that’s an assumption of mine on their part. A projection of mine I’m casting onto them.

I don’t know.

MILEAGE & INTENT

jeremiah walton death rattle
Death Rattle Writers’ Fest, 2017

There were Greyhound station songs sung to God by a humble Vegas hustlers honoring his parents, his past lovers, his children, cousins, anyone in his life that had shook hands w. St. Peter after catching bullets w. their faith when poverty lines were signed for profit.

Empty parks became stages. Freestyling w. strangers over someone beatboxing under a dead star desert sky bruised purple. Dancing on San Francisco rooftops barefoot in the rain, alone. Crashing someone’s party w. poems they…weren’t particularly expecting (but that was great practice for tomorrow’s Beast Crawl, so thank you for throwing us up in the line-up & tolerating the slurs between syllables.)

There’s a trend here. The way pains expressed. That restless feeling in your legs when the sun starts to set. Kicking rigs outta the way in abandoned Tucson warehouses to stomp circles to snapped banjo strings. Rainbow Gatherings out deep in the White Mountains playing psychedelic solos. Veracruz bed bouncing mosh pits w. only two people & no music & a whole slew of strange experiences I’d call poetic performance that was much more enticing than maintaining a steady online profile, trying to build a “following” (to where?), or any of that noise that comes up when you google “how to publish your poetry.”

I was 15 the first time I searched that. & lil baby Jeremiah took that shit serious.

great canyon poetry
Great Canyon, West Coast Tour 2015

What’s fueling this? Curiosity. Intent? Not entirely certain.

Maybe to strip myself a little more naked, so we both feel less alone?

Why do I want you to fell less alone? Do I have love for you?

How do I give you what I barely afford myself worth?

I lack any good answer to that.

Though, in this tangent, it needs to be acknowledged that there is a romanticization of a past that cost a lot of us more than we were aware we’d been prepped to pay.

While I’ve gained a lot, & grown, thru these experiences, there are people who never made it out of that world, those worlds, these worlds….artist or addict?

One has some words, with a website out, asking for some change.

One’s sitting by the corner, with a hat out, asking for some change.

Unsure. These feedback into each other, & can easily become more static cement than fluid expression.

WHY RE-OPEN THIS SITE?

There’s powerful emotional release in the act of being as vulnerable as you can that I cannot pretend to understand the nuances of. But that potency is what’s brought me here–to this process–of re-modeling this website, & re-releasing poems, regardless of audience or lack-there-of.

The whole writing world is strange to me. I don’t feel like a writer….or a poet….or any of those loaded words.

I just feel shit.

& language, happens to be

how those emotions are channeled,

thru both writing

& conversation.

After the rush

comes the grounding—thru reflection

in either performance,

or listening.

( it gets murkier here…like, when are we performing? what’s considered a performance? who are we performing for? more later—in the poems )

I don’t love writing. I do it. This is coping. This is escape. A compulsive return in the present to a behavior that’s worked in the past to sort shit out….& if escape is running towards….& there’s some strange, nameless gurgle grinding up your spine w. a twisted need to expel whatever the hell this is…

I guess that means these can be acts of healing for my-selves too.

87C58080-49F1-4C4F-AB7B-350EACB26058
our AWP didn’t have any writers, but there was a fancy tub & tequila

…or maybe this an early-twenties lethargic tantrum nit-picking images we use to communicate interests humans take bc that person wants attention themselves.

If it is, well, this circus is going public! & that means letting go, taking responsibility for what’s said, & riding w. what happens.

This first post’s acrobats do feel agitated. A bit on-guard. Romanticizing (therefor objectifying) the road & already building buffers to protect myself from y’all’s many faces. But,

if you stick your ears between the syllables,
under the ramble, “intent”
& “expectations”
are having a dialogue
regarding what one means
to the other.

That brings us to “Write The Poem, Record, Upload.

new-poem
in Veracruz, Mexico
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