What propels a man to write?

I ask me that a lot
when I sit down and type.
Why do I write?

I am so thankful that I can
’cause it has gotten me through
many hard days, many long nights.

It has gotten me through death,
it has walked me through life.
It has brought me to sleep, instead of counting sheep’s,
I wrote. sheet after sheet, till I felt complete.

Still, I got what was inside me, out of me completely.
A soul release, let the ink bleed, never me.
I have tried cuts and slashes
but ended with semicolons, and dashes
When I felt like striking back
at the monotonous laugh track,
I hit the pads like gym rats hit mats.

I used to use number 2 pencils
like swords
to stab at you.
To reach inward,
to deal with the whiplash
that life seems to like
to do to me, to you.
Or for you to do to me.
Because in real life
you wouldn’t like me.

So, I fight you in paper, pen,
battle the memory of every person
who has said shit to me.
So many.
I might be a weakling in person,
but you see me with a stylo,
come at me, and I will
go round for round, toe to toe,
line for line, word for word,
till you can’t speak at me.

Inwardly, I go deep.
I speak swiftly
but write stealthy,
mentally healthy,
black belt with the felt tip.
I fight back.
I have to.

Because, I can only do so much in life.
And one thing I can do is write.
So, I write long poems,
and you are a champion if you read to the end.
I write song poems, that sound good
when expressed, verbally, because
really the wordsmith that I be
is something that extended from mercury
from inside of you to outside of me.
It’s not hyperbole. The worst of me
is the best of you.
But this is not Battleship
and alarm clocks This is
submarines and gun shots.
This is broken down locks
and gold watches.
I can back up my shit talk,
if only while the beat drops
or the sparks in the mind
keep going working overtime,
synapses snapped, chiropractic,
get back in line
some other time
because maybe I have said everything over again.
Then let me say it back again.

I got this, every mental illness
you give me,
signed sealed delivered,
thrown into a poem
locked up in my black book,
notebook, decomposing
in a composition book,
locked in some fortress
with guards surrounding it with swords, lanterns.
Fight back, patterns of underlined dot dot dots.
I don’t even have to stop stop stop.

I unlock, unlock, unlock,
set the padlock to 3,
turn the dial over a few times
back three more times, and lock ’em in.
The prison of writtens, you belong in.
because, you told me I didn’t belong.

That feeling of not belonging
throw it in.
The feeling of being a victim
throw it in.
The feeling of sinking in cement, demented in detention
throw it in.
The feeling of sucking at everything you try to do
throw it in.
The feeling of losing at everything since the beginning,
throw it in.
The feeling that life is not worth living
throw it in.
That Truman Show feeling that you are an alien
throw it in.
The feeling that the warden, is waiting for your caged bird to sing
throw it in.
The feeling that I could die standing in the Dunkin line
throw it in.
The atrocious music of my heartbeat,
irregular from medication
throw it in.

And shut the door.
Turn the lock, lock it.
Throw away the key

And life your life a champion.
That’s why I fucking write.

Why do you?


Jason Wright is the editor and founder of Oddball Magazine. His column appears weekly. His third book, Train of Thought 2: Almost Home is available now.