:: Article

Two Poems

By Blake Butler.

eventually i will be mostly lipid

georgia is so disgusting this time of year
it gets so humid it isn’t even worth putting clothes on
or going to the mailbox
unless you know there’s going to be something good
which there rarely is
the only time i go outside
between the months of july and august
is to walk to my car
and then from my car to wherever i am going
and then back to my car
and then back to my house
or sometimes i go running
usually i try to run on a treadmill in the summer
or get exercise other ways
but some days i get up
and don’t think about temperature
and i just put on my women’s jogging shorts
(i run in women’s jogging shorts
because it’s the only pair i own)
and head straight on out into the heat
you sweat twice as much as normal
when running in extreme humidity
your skin gets so wet and glisteny
i didn’t know that my sweat had acidic properties
until i started running in extreme heat
and felt it hit my eyes.
most of the day i spend sitting
in front of the computer.
my rss feed keeps me up to date to friend’s
and other writers’ blogs.
i look at the same sites every day
either because they are bookmarked in the main toolbar
or they are in the drop down menu
and all i have to do is click
even if i know there’s no new content there.
often i’ll look at the same unupdated site
five or six times a day.
in addition to my rss feed sites
i look at gmail, myspace, duotrope,
juked, 5cense.com, statcounter,
pitchforkmedia, facebook, ebay,
the websites of any journals
i have an entry to a soon-ending contest in,
the websites of any journals
i have recently been accepted by,
sharkscope, diagram, bookslut, amazon,
mcsweeneys, google, paypal.
i could probably get done what i do
on the internet each day in a total of 45 minutes
not counting my email checking
but somehow it stretches over a 6-8 hour period.
i do not go out very often
unless there is something specifically interesting to do
though there is not often something specifically interesting to do
and yet i still do not consider myself an introvert.
i used to not watch much television.
until 3 months ago, i did not have cable at home for 7 years.
now each week i watch top chef, bizarre foods,
whatever new poker broadcasts are on,
flipping out, the pickup artist, the soup
and occasional movies.
often i watch the same episodes of the same show
multiple times in a week,
sometimes even in the same day.
i think less now about how i spend my time.
i used to obsess about stuffing my life full
with ‘productiveness.’
if i weren’t sleeping
or occasionally hanging out with people
i would be sure to be working on writing,
reading, submitting,
sending productive emails, or something else
that i could look back on
and have palpable evidence of my effort.
now i don’t seem to care.
as long as i run each day
and write at least a little
and send work out a couple times a week
and play some poker
and see people outside my house two days a week
and spend a decent amount of time with my girlfriend,
i don’t think about much else.
i wonder if this could be considered
an improvement or devolution.
i wonder if i am old.

dumb dumb dumb child

i am feeling bad about the pursuit of writing
i am feeling like i am wasting a lot of my time
i put roughly 5-8 hours a day 5-6 days a week into it
and i think about it probably 68% of my waking hours
not including the time spent thinking
which causes loss of sleep
and the bursts of pleasure i receive
in my head from the writing
and the occasional acceptance of work
and the fine people i’ve met or e-met as a result
are often in the short run worth it
but i don’t have a job
and i don’t have income more than the money i make
from the record label i half-assedly produce
and i procrastinate as much as i produce
by activities such as writing negative-minded blogs
and i have a new mortgage which needs to be paid for
and each hour i write is another hour
i am not making money to pay my mortgage
thus decreasing the money i’ve managed to save
over the past few years
and today i feel like shit.
i feel like shit about a lot of things
but right this minute that seems most pressing.
i still can’t bring myself to read very much.
mostly i’ve been reading books that are very short
and have small sections
so that i can dip out whenever i want to
and maybe come back in a few days
or a week even
and maybe not even remember what was happening.
i read yannick murphy’s new collection IN A BEAR’S EYE
straight through in about 90 minutes the other day
and really liked it.
i read robert lopez’s novel PART OF THE WORLD
a couple weeks ago pretty much straight through
and really liked it.
i’ve actually been more prolific
with short pieces in the past two months
than i’ve been in a really long time
since i’ve taken a break trying to work on my novel,
which i realized will now be the 5.5th novel
i’ve completed some form of draft of,
none of which has been done anything with
except shown to a handful of editors.
perhaps i am lazy or half-assed.
sometimes i go back
and read the things i wrote and thought highly of
and just want to cringe and delete them
and send emails to the editors i sent them out to
and apologize for sending them
something so worthless
and maybe try to focus my thinking energy
into wiping that impression out of their mind
even though they probably don’t remember me
from any of the several thousand others
they read every month or year.
i think the presence of a submissions tracking device
like the one at duotrope.com is an excellent tool
but also causes some amount of stress
or nervousness in me.
i think too much about what’s where and who
and when and how long and what does it matter.
my duotrope says i have a 14.56% acceptance ratio
which is higher than the average
but i also do not report everything
so it’s probably much lower.
which doesn’t even matter really
because having any acceptance at all is pleasant
but for some reason i keep thinking about it.
i don’t know why i am writing this
because most of the time
i feel like i am beginning to accomplish something
and beginning to write things
that are actually publishable
and worthwhile to some extent
but a lot of the times i just feel like shit.
i will feel better in another minute
but i think i need to go run a couple miles
and hope that tonight my brain lets me sleep.


Blake Butler lives in Atlanta. He has work in or forthcoming with Caketrain, Burnside Review, Sleepingfish, Alice Blue Review, etc. His blog is blakebutler.blogspot.com.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, August 27th, 2007.