Who am I? I am a poet of no particular talent and a man who keeps to himself. The world is a very unfriendly place and people are not worth the effort. That is how I feel, how I have always felt. I sit here writing and reading joyfully, as I always have, but when I must leave this armchair, terrible things happen. Thus, I came here to these distant woods to finally assess what I must do differently in this life in order to more harmoniously exist in relation to my fellow man, yet I have only encountered new problems. I barely stepped not one hundred yards beyond the gates of this cabin before I had to run for my life. The trees were creaking ominously, a symphony of wind instruments absorbing my attention so loudly that I did not notice the soloist until it was almost too late. However, I suddenly found myself standing before a rather large bear cub who was blocking the path. We were terrified of each other though, and while I remained frozen, he bolted into the wilderness as if I were death itself. I would be a pile of bones and rotting bits of the remaining flesh now if that weren’t the case. I am living though and reflecting upon the poem that I wrote prior to venturing beyond the safety of my armchair. The whole affair reminded me of walking to the grocery store from my old apartment in the city where I was unpleasantly accosted by unknown persons hawking CDs and two teenagers running from a homeless woman knocked me over onto my bum. They looked back at me from the other side of the road, laughing, but they weren’t actually looking at me. I was merely collateral in their drama. They were looking into the homeless woman trouncing about after them that I could now smell vividly, paused as she was alongside me, and they taunted her as a stream of traffic began to flow between us. Then the livid woman, who knows what great wrong had been perpetrated against her by these maniacs, shouted as her vocal cords appeared to shred, “I’m going to get you, you ***king C***s!” It was the first time that I had ever heard the word and I did not actually know what it meant. I had to ask a stranger after the event and all that she could do was laugh at me as she walked away attempting to overcome her hysteria. I am a very sheltered person, but I feel very resolute in my absolute conviction that everybody involved in this incident except for me was in the wrong. That is generally how I feel about my relations with human beings. That is why I have come to sit here quietly, writing poetry for an audience of no one in particular while desiring to share. As I remain here, staring into the forest beyond me where I am now too terrified to venture, the bear encounter was only a few hours ago and he’s still in there and has probably returned with friends, if not an entire family of much larger bears, I find myself wondering if I will ever break out of this prison of shyness. Obviously, I’m not going to say hello to a bear, but there is a local café not a fifteen-minute drive away. I picture myself entering and appearing exotic, a city dweller dressed in a suit. I will put on a suit to establish myself here and to garner their interest. “Why is he wearing suit?”, they will question themselves. However, I know that the interaction will go something like this, “Hello, may I order a coffee with a dash of cream?” “Why, yes, of course,” the barista will say, and I will remain silent all while a bubbling urge to ask questions grows within me. The barista might make small talk, “why are you wearing a suit?”, at which point I will feel the urge to run away as I too will question why I have done this to myself. Then language will spill from me, but it will be thoughtless and reactive, and as soon as I get the coffee, I will actually run away as fast as I can walk without appearing to be fleeing from a bear. That is how I imagined it and why I am here brewing my own coffee. Sometimes I like to imagine what it might be like, at the very least, to not be alone in this, to have fellow writers seated upon armchairs with whom I might speak infrequently, but comfortably. Sometimes I imagine more too, but my experience is that seeking such pleasures only creates more problems as people reveal emotions, needs, desires, and other uncomfortable realities. I have never quite known what to do and I have grown to feel relatively at peace in my chaste solitude. It is an uneasy balance though, the result of prolonged interpolation rather than genuine desire, and I would much prefer to inhabit an alternative equilibrium. Thus, I set down my pen, took a final sip of wine, looked out into the twilight beyond my window where a lonesome squirrel sat perched upon a branch as if he were looking back into my cabin wondering whether I had a treasure trove of nuts, though it appeared curiously, as my eyes grew heavier, as if he were holding a tiny oblong object, and yet I drifted gently to sleep prior to discerning the nature of the squirrel’s possession.
[insert the poem Meditations At the Gates of the Unknown, as if written by this fictional poet.]
Thus, in the midst of my heavy slumber,/Having woken suddenly upon the armchair/Amidst a radiant preternatural light glowing,/Emanating coolly from the window, and/Having not quite answered the frigid questions,/As quietly feeling as if there were no other choice,/The fear of the bear having passed—/How, I know not why as I felt/A compulsion thrusting me beyond my sanctuary/To the very site of the bear sighting—/I took one small step, what now seems a giant leap/And I travelled somewhere uncomfortably beyond./T’was then, wandering,/A leaf fell before me,/So distinctly a leaf/Side to side drifting,/And became suddenly,/As inches from the ground,/Two butterflies in flight./A flower rose before me/Too, seconds later,/Vibrant petals dancing,/Stemlessly floating/And the scent was/Delicious./Thus, I delved deeper/Where I discovered more,/More flowers taunting,/Luring, luridly guiding me./I know not why, why/I felt so comfortably/As if the exposure/Were controlled/And believing that/I stripped myself/of inhibition, clothing/and my usual care./Her beasts began to appear then,/Not like thorns, but like harmonies/They walked with me as a friend./The wolves were mounted by squirrels/And the robins sat upon a chariot/Whose reins embraced a bobcat./Thus, I followed them further/Until the sun began to set/And all paths had disappeared./T’was then, at our parting/That they gifted me a seed./“Swallow it,” said a squirrel/Crowned and puffy chested./“Swallow it!” chanted the others,/Standing behind him with robins/Chirping, “Swallow it!”, “swallow it!”,/While the predators remained silent,/Unseen, and who knows what thinking./Thus, thoughtlessly I indulged them/And suddenly the theatre went dark,/The actors disappeared, and the stage/Became the sound of my beating heart./Then, after a stunning wave/of total disorientation/I collected many branches,/Ignited a magnificent fire,/And illuminated the sudden night/Where trees swayed quietly,/Eerily so without whining/Amidst the wind’s gentle caress./T’was then appeared the lyre/In the hand of a handsome fellow/And the music began wordlessly/As more and handsomer appeared/In a steady stream to circle the flame./Thus, we danced without speaking./I know not why, for I nervously felt/Words bubbling, seeking to emerge/As the images of fire and man blurred/Together as if at one./Thus, oh so gradually/I began to feel unmoored/In tune with music and wind/And at every vision of a man/I shouted gleefully/“off with your pants!”/“off with your pants!”/“This is nature and/I am her son!”/“off with your pants!”/The intoxication came/from I knew not where/how, why, or when/but it grew within me/and sought to spread/like wildflowers/a wildfire, a beastly desire/that was not new/merely never known/so intimately in flesh./I saw then in the flame/Whose logs were hissing/The reflection of a wolf/And the fellows’ faces/All around me melted,/Becoming beasts/Whose gazes were sorrowful/Before reconstituting/As joyful men dancing./And the lyre’s happy tune/It felt dissonant as dancing/Still, these fellows smiled/And I stood, mind and body/Spinning, spinning, spinning/And unable ‘til I collapsed./Thus, I awoke deep within her belly/Head throbbing, memories swirling/And laying there amidst the verdant sea/Of evergreen and me/I discovered/my body was covered in leeches./They were technicolor and beautiful/And with each rip they shouted/In adorable children’s voices/“Ow! You’re hurting me!”/“Stop it! You’re hurting us!”/“I’m going to tell mummy/And she’s going to make you pay!”/Yet, their voices grew quiet/And their bodies faded to brown/As I freed myself and watched them/inching, writhing, and shriveling/as they began to produce a putrid scent./My body was limp though/and my mind oh so cloudy./“Where am I?”, I began questioning,/“How much of that was real?”,/“Where are the bloody ashes?”,/“What have I swallowed?”/And, “where am I now?”/“What is happening?’/And, “can I ever return?”/Thus, I wandered through/Bright green evergreen/An infinite expanse/Of everything and nothing/Searching for an escape/As the fantastic world/The night before, became/A quest for survival/In a forest without a map/Or a compass or a clue./Thus, I wandered loudly/Always seeking my return/To the comfort of who/I once was before/I took one small step/Swallowed whatever/And found myself/There and then wandering/Amidst darkness night and day./The nights grew darker too/And the trees whispered to me/“She’s eating you, our mother.”/“She takes her time/As does a tree grow/You will wither within her.”/“Yes, yes,” whispered the flowers/“As do some trees perish/You will be struck by lightning/Engulfed in flames before disappearing.”/“Lightning! Lightning!”, they chanted/As I slept upon a bed of twigs/Praying for the lightning/Or perhaps a loving scythe./“We wish to see you struck!”/The big one shouted./“Will you dance for us?”/He questioned, his petals/glowing in excitement/“Or might you go down/In flames without becoming/One of the great names?”/They did this to me night and day/And I no longer had anything to say./I dreamt of them within the dream/Waking every day, I heard them scream/“Lightning! Lightning! Make him burn!”/Thus, I awaited lightning, devoid of joy/Wandering always and everywhere/Amidst that terrible and fantastic/Now here, there and then/Until one day eventually unrelentingly/I began singing this melancholic tune:/I do not know what came to this/this emptiness, this lack of bliss/and I do not know where to go from here/consumed by fear, how close is near?/And I want to go beyond these trees./I am on my knees; oh please, oh please/And I come from a place of blissful peace./Oh, mother please, oh please, oh please/Will you finally grant me release?/I promise you, should I return/So many ashes within this urn/Oh, herald the lightning, I wish to burn/Become for you, anything I will learn/Anything for you I will do, who/Oh whoooo, must I become?/ Whooo, whooo, do you wish me to be?/And I awoke suddenly in my armchair,/Questioning, “who am I now?”,/My mind still misty/Amidst the musty dwelling,/And I felt as if in a vivid haze,/As if it had been several days./The memories melded—/The nightmare and fantasy bled/Together into truth and reality—/As if worlds had collided, a city/Taken root, and the construction/And destruction were taking place/Simultaneously./As hypnagogic visions lingered,/Dancing about before me as/Confabulous confabulations,/A man busking that song,/A happier, livelier rendition/On a sidewalk as passersby/And a few lingering admired/A man who appeared to be/A vision of me confidently/Travelling amidst the sound/Of the city streets, bustling/With people strange and new,/I sought to cling to memories/I felt were true, real, and me,/Memories of comfort, my tree./Yet, the vision tasted sweet/And the idea, a tantalizing treat,/Of an audience with whom/I might be heard, word for word,/Without having to interact/Began to take shallow root,/But as soon as it came, surely,/I realized as certain as the rain,/People will speak and it will be a pain./Thus, I gradually returned to myself,/Lucidly me, as seated upon the armchair,/The visions began to recede,/And amidst the rising sun,/Golden upon my skin,/My solitude felt increasingly/Necessary, light, and proper./“Yes, tis best to be lonely;/Only one, oneself,/One world and me.”/Thus, I rose, as if triumphant,/And with gait to coffee to brew,/But the evening’s lingering vision, I knew/It was just a strange delusion,/A fascinating, terrifying intrusion./Thus, I chanted, ”It was just a dream”,/”It was just a dream, a dream.”/”It was just a dream, ethereal,”/“None of that was ever real”,/”It was just a dream”/”It was just a dream”,/And yet, as I grabbed the cream/”It was just a dream”/Became musical notes flowing/And I began to sing/As the horn of a rising wind.