Every time I say the words “my” and “novel” in the same sentence, my novel hogties me to the bed and teaches me a lesson with a dull pencil: Take that, you pretentious twirp. So today, instead of trying to tame the beast, I wrote a little almost-poem in the style of Larry Levis, because I wish I could write like him.
what i asked for
(an homage to Larry Levis, by Anna Fonté)
At first, writing was heavy pets and wide-mouthed kissing,
dry humps in parking lots and hallways and elevators and in the car
flying down the highway and in the middle of the night, take me, take me
I had notes scribbled from my shoulder to my knuckles,
a beard-shaped rash and rug burn on my elbows
and didn’t care, no, no.
The words had me slick and giddy,
strutting with a macho limp and a thick, fat pen
in my back pocket because you never know
when that urge is going to hit.
But soon, I was gripping the page with both hands, shaking
begging please, please, don’t leave me like this, just give me a little taste
but the words on the page grew tepid
they said, let’s be friends. You’re like a sister.
I’ll text you if I need you. You can cook me dinner
if nothing better comes up.
But still, I went through the motions, poses and prostrations,
dutiful and dogged
as a dog
and it said, my god, what is the matter, you look like trash and I didn’t raise a loser
you’re too old for this. you should have married a doctor
what, do you have rocks in your head?
So I threw the pens out the window, dyed my hair blue, and started cutting.
I used the Wedgwood as an ashtray and let the bonsai wither in their pots.
I moved across town and changed my name but it made no difference.
It is always here, propped in the corner, shapeless as dirt and frayed at the edges,
moth-eaten and smelly, with stains on every page
and every once in awhile, it croaks in a faint German accent:
I’m just like your father. Come closer. Come closer. I promise not to bite.