Hypnogogic Jerk

This evening’s lullaby
Everyone’s a critic
X for x’s sake

Sleep with one eye open
Memorize the patterns, sounds in the metal walls
Bang, ba-bang, clank: guard making his rounds
Bang, boom, scuffle: a new resident, learning the way of things
Schiff, bang, thunk: an old hand, giving up
So long as it’s not… Clang, clank, slam
You can still sleep with one eye open

Dream with one hand in the cookie jar
Learn the language of subtext, meaning behind the lies
We really want to work with you: you are good for our reputation
You have a real talent: as long as people keep buying, we’ll keep selling
What’s your vision for this project: we need you to think you matter
So long as it’s not… Let’s try a new direction
You can still dream with one hand in the cookie jar

Create with one foot on the ground
Recognize the warning thoughts, signs you’re losing you
It’s hard to explain: you don’t see all the hard work
I want to be true to my passion: I don’t know what is inside, but it needs to come out
No one knows who I am: I’m not sure I’m showing my true self
So long as it’s not… I deserve to be known
You can still create with one foot on the ground

This morning’s wake up song
Let’s try a new direction
Clang, clank, slam

Note: While I didn’t want to say so before the poem, this piece is a reaction to some great advice about the writing and the creative process that I have picked up from people like Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Chuck Wendig, and Maureen Johnson.

I like to show all my poems to someone who is not a big fan of poetry to get their thoughts. This time, the reaction was “I have a feeling this is depressing but I don’t know why.” I think this is an excellent way to sum up something all artists and creators go through in regard to their own work.

I pointed out that the poem is depressing because it’s about trying to create in a world, a context, that’s not always conducive to creativity. But, I continued, it’s also hopeful. Each scenario has a “So long as it’s not”: a thing that makes it less survivable. The hope of the poem lies in which of these lines is missing from the last verse.

The only one of these “So long as it’s not”s that can truly stop you is an internal one.

It’s something you can control.

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