CVLT Nation Interviews Alexis Marshall
JS: First of all I wanted to know about your earliest memories of being inspired or having a desire to write, whether it be lyrically or poetically or what have you…
AM: I don’t recall really when I had a desire to write. I was always interested in art and literature, I was really into horror movies as a kid – and so if you’re into horror movies as a kid you’re, of course, watching Stephen King films. I decided I wanted to read Stephen King books, but I was really young so I was never gonna commit to a novel. It wasn’t until Jr. high that I read a book that I really enjoyed, and so from there I realized, “Oh, this is kind of in my wheelhouse now”.
What was the book?
It was a book called “The Contender” – I can’t remember the name of the author right now but it was a young adult book, I had to read it for school. It was about like a young kid living in the inner city in Chicago or something like that, and it was just like not happening for him, so he put on a pair of boxing gloves to try to get his shit together.
Yeah, that’s the one. So I had read this book and I envisioned myself carrying it like a bible, like even when I finished the book I just had this book with me like it was a part of my being, but, ya know, I had to return the book, so that’s not at all what happened. That’s when I was actually exposed to art, but I didn’t fully embrace it then. I was playing music, and of course as a singer I write, so it was just a necessity, but it felt comfortable and I enjoyed it very much. I found myself writing for songs that we didn’t have. It didn’t occur to me that I should be a writer or that I should write poetry or anything like that, I was just writing and I thought that they would be songs at some point, which I’ve done for years and I think I had kind of adopted the fact that I had written poetry as well. Between Daughters records and everything that I was working on, I was just writing, and I was certain that they weren’t gonna be a part of a record, they likely wouldn’t fit, but, I dunno, I was just writing to write.
Well, its interesting, I said I wasn’t gonna mention Daughters but, haha, its kind of inevitable, but as both a writer and a lyricist myself my processes are totally different between writing for a band and just writing for myself or writing poetry, so I’m kind of curious as to how that works for people who are also both lyricists and who also write outside of the lyric form…
Well I think when I was just kinda cutting my teeth I didn’t know where it was gonna go – it was for music, ya know – so I was just writing whatever came to me, and then things would get used or wouldn’t get used . But as I got older – I’m 37 years old –when I’m writing for Daughters I sort of embrace the narrative more, so I’m kind of creating characters and writing in that frame of trying to tell a story maybe. But poetry just seems a bit more raw, it’s pushing on a nerve, and it’s more personal. I haven’t written anything personal or about myself for Daughters in quite a while; I’ll do it here and there, but I end up lacing it with metaphors to just, shit, make it sort of fancier haha! You know writing for a song, its a different experience than writing poetry, because you’re seeing a thing in a certain way, so things fit differently and sort of allow this transfer where I can write bullshit and it doesn’t really matter because its part of a song. I heard Patton used to do that – probably still does – for Faith No More lyrics in that he’s more interested in sound, so he’ll use words that sound good as opposed to words that make sense. That’s why Faith No More lyrics can be so strange, and I assume that that’s probably what Chino does in Deftones…the lyrics don’t make a lot of sense, so they’re just there for sound, which must be really freeing.
I was wondering if you ever came to a point, after you did start writing more poetically or more not for music in particular, where the two became separate. Whereas before you were writing things under the assumption that they would eventually be a song, once you sort of found that outside poetic form did it change for you, did you feel a sort of separation between the two?
Yeah, especially now, because I became so engrossed with this book. It is a totally different experience now writing poetry, it’s much more like I’m more intentionally trying to write a poem – ya know, “I’m gonna go upstairs and try to sit down at the typewriter and try to write a poem.” Before when I was just writing to write, it had nowhere to go, like the only thing it was gonna be was a song, and now I can write and it can be its own. I don’t need to be accompanied by music or by other people, and I can do this on my own and for myself now. So the approach is totally different because the end result is different…and of course they’re all just words at the end of the day, but it’s art and I’m taking a different approach to these different forms of art.
Yeah, its like…you can maybe compare it to different forms of visual art, like mixed media as opposed to painting as opposed to print making…because for me, I used to just use whatever I had already written and just fit it to the song, but now its completely different, I write specifically to the song now to create something new instead of pulling from something that I already had, whereas it didn’t used to be like that…
You know, making a song fit is different than making a poem…where you’re under time constraints in music…
Yeah, and the form is so much freer, too…
Exactly, so I can write a really long poem, which I don’t often do, or I can make it really short and I get to decide when this is done. I don’t have to shave anything off here because this verse is four measures and I have to make it fit and I have to take out this word. So there’s none of that concern whatsoever in writing poetry.
Have you done any readings?
I haven’t done any readings…actually I can’t tell if I’m excited to do it eventually, or a bit terrified at the idea…
Yeah, it actually, it never occurred to me until just now haha…
Haha well I suppose you and myself and Colohan would’ve been doing that right now had it all worked out, but I keep…making babies so…haha
Well, your book JUST came out so you gotta give it some time to marinate first…
I’m excited though, I’m really happy to be solely responsible for what I’m doing now and to be touring around with a band of friends.
Does the idea of doing a reading make you nervous at all?
I’m not sure, I think I’m excited to do it…
Cause as singers we always have that kind of blanket of security as far as having a band of people behind us to fall back on…
Right, and I think that I’ve been doing it, like I’ve been standing in front of people and, ya know, wearing a suit and talking between songs, and naked bleeding in front of a bunch of strangers, so I’ve sort of gone the spectrum of standing in front of a crowd of people and talking, so reading a poem I don’t think should be too difficult.
How are you at Karaoke though?
Haha, um, I don’t get to do a lot of Karaoke…
Cause for me Karaoke is fucking horrific.
We were on tour in Japan and I did a bunch of karaoke songs in a row, but I was SO very, very drunk.
Yeah, see, even when I’m drunk Karaoke fucking horrifies me. I’ve been singing in bands my whole life but I cannot fucking do Karaoke, it doesn’t make any sense to me. But I can also go up and read poetry by myself ya know, it doesn’t make any sense…
Right. I’ve watched you do some reading on Youtube by the way.
It was something for like…it was a bunch of sets that everyone was reading…you did a BUNCH of Patchen.
Oh yeah, that for, uh, that was only Patchen, that was for this thing they have here called Day of the Dead Beats where every reader gets a different Beat era writer and they get to just read whatever parts of their work that they want to. I was REALLY, really drunk in that video…
Yeah, you took your shirt off haha.
Yeah, someone asked me to take my shirt off.
I’ve never seen anyone read poetry without a shirt on
Well I remember getting really upset because they tried to cut me off, and Patchen is one of my favorites and he cuts really deeply to me, so I have very strong feelings about that work and especially in the midst of reading it, ya know, you kinda start to get consumed by it. Then when somebody’s trying to shake you out of it, I just remember having this idea in the back of my head like, “This is really important and you can’t stop this,” so I started to get really upset and just kept reading…
And I think people were just really bummed…and I was really drunk, ya know, so I was just like “Fuck you, I’ve got more to go” haha…
Right, yeah I’m trying to remember – we were on tour, we were playing, uh, fuck, I always get confused about the place we played in Cleveland…Grog Shop? Was it Grog Shop or is it the Ottobar?
Ottobar is Baltimore…
Right, so Grog Shop is Cleveland, I always mix the two up. We might’ve been out with the Blood Brothers or something, but there was a book store, a great book store right on that strip, not far from the club, and Patchen was from Cleveland, and they had a local “Patchen Month” or something like that, but just sort of on a whim I just grabbed one of his books and, ya know, it was wonderful, he’s great.
It never occurs to me, I’ve never played at the Grog Shop I’ve only ever been to, uh, Now That’s Class!, but I always forget that he’s from Cleveland.
So there’s probably some old original shit there.
There might’ve been, I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at, I just grabbed like a “Selected Poems,” just a collection of a bunch of things…
Yeah, I’m gonna have to keep that in the back of my mind though for the next time I’m in Cleveland.
Yeah, we should try to set it up somehow when we go out together, we should like, tour in the area.
Yeah, I wonder, he’s probably buried there too I would imagine.
He must be, yeah, I mean the book store treated him almost like that was their guy, that was the poet of Cleveland.
Yeah, I mean, can you think of anyone else who comes from Cleveland haha?
I don’t know…I know that their river burst into flames once, that’s about all I have.
Yeah, right hahaha, um, ok, we’re getting off topic here…
So far as your writing goes, do you feel like it’s a laborious kind of task for you, like something that you really have to kind of hammer out of your head, or does it feel more spontaneous? And sidenote, I know a lot of writers are very disciplined – ya know, they’ll make it a point to get up and write for a certain amount of time every day regardless – I’m curious to know what your process is like, or if there IS a process at all, or if its just this kind of spontaneous thing that comes up?
I’d say its more of a spontaneous thing…when I was putting this thing together in the winter, I had a deadline and I was trying to, ya know, get up in the morning and get the boy to school and get up and go to work, and then I’d go back to the house and go up in the office and I would…
Beat your head against the wall?
Well, ya know, sometimes it was going a bit slowly cause I had a lot of older poems written like ten years before, so I had a handful of those that were always meant to be poems, but were unfinished and didn’t work very well, so I tried to rework a lot of things. I was weirdly sort of adjusting to the idea that I was writing poetry, and had set my sights on being a poet or embracing the idea that I could be a poet at some point in my life, so I kinda wanted to realize that. When I was lying in bed, I would reach over and grab my phone and write, and I would make sure I had my phone even when I went to the bathroom because I would sit on the toilet and just write in the notepad in my phone and it just became something that was kind of all the time. I’m always writing, I like to just go upstairs and kind of force myself to do something, or like, “Let’s try to write something, there must be something I can do, or something that’s unfinished that I can finish, or there’s something that I can improve.” Yeah, there’s no, “Welp, its time to sit down and write some good ole poems!” or “write five poems now!”– it just doesn’t…it’s just something that I’m constantly doing and um when I’m not doing it, it’s like, “Well, fuck it, I’m not bound to be a poet I guess,” and two days or three days will pass and I think, “Jesus, I haven’t sat down and written a damned thing,” and I’m just like, “Well that’s not good, I should maybe write something.”
I’ve always been really envious of those writers that have that strict kind of discipline who are like “I’m gonna devote this amount of time every day to this,” whether its good or not, just to keep the gears oiled I guess, cause that’s not how I work either…
Yeah, we just moved and I have a room that I’m writing in, and its frustrating to walk around and there are just boxes everywhere and, god, it’s just become more of a stressful and frustrating environment. It makes it hard to be creative, so I try to wake up and go and write but it just doesn’t work that way.
And I’m sure the schedule with your son is probably pretty hectic too…
It can be – I mean, he’s crazy, he’s a little tiny crazy human, but I mean its great! And ya know, we make things work, I do my best to make things work.
So following on from that, do you ever feel any kind of great relief in completing a poem? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment or do you feel nothing or, ya know, is it just, its something that you do and that’s it?
There’s of course a sense of self-satisfaction which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how I look at it, but yeah there are times when I’ll write something and I’ll think its great and I’ll think, “Wow, I just wrote this wonderful poem!,” and I look around this empty room and I’m like, “Well, into the pile it goes,” and I just continue on. I try not to get too crazy and pop a bottle of Champagne or something every time I write a poem, because that would just be a sort of self-masturbatory, self-congratulatory heap of bullshit. It’s good for one’s creative side, and I think if we get too caught up in our own selves we just stop being creative and stop being sincere in our creativity, so we just create something and move on with it and think, “Alright, don’t mess with it,” that’s satisfactory so let’s keep going forward.
What thoughts do you have on publishing your first book and the kind of vulnerability that comes along with that?
Yeah, its on me ya know, I can’t say that its a bad recording or something…
You can’t say the drummer played shitty or…
Yeah – “His timing was off, the whole record sounds bad” – I mean, this is entirely on me and there are moments where I will reread some poems, and I think “This fucking line doesn’t work” or “There’s a better word, I should’ve used this other word,” but its just the way it goes, ya know? That’s something that’s just always gonna be there so, everything in hindsight could be and should be better, right?
I guess that’s the idea really…
Yeah, so what I disapprove of in the book, ya know, someone might think is the most incredible thing they’ve ever read so, ya know, it’s done, I’m really happy, I think it’s a really beautiful looking book and I think Finner did a great job and, um, I’m really satisfied with it and I’m really happy and, um, yeah I’m more excited than anything else.
So I know we were talking about this the other day and you said you’ve been sober for…9 years, right?
Yeah 9 years in August…
What are your thoughts on that as far as it affects your work, do you feel like its had any effect on your writing, negative or positive?
Ya know I’m not sure, I know that I was very productive when I was very messed up, but I’ve been sober for so long now that when I look back at the drunk me or something I feel like that was an entirely different person. If I had been sober for a year and I was just still wrestling with some of those ideas of who I am and “Can I do this?” but, ya know, I had really just stepped away from music and stepped away from art entirely when I got sober, because its just an environment where there’s too much free whatever I needed…
People want you to get fucked up…
Right…there are people around you, there are drugs for this person and you have a rider, ya know, the green room is just filled with alcohol and shit and strange women that wanna get you drugs so…it feels like a different life, and I’m far enough removed from it that I don’t feel at all confused or intimidated to create art in it. I got back into it because I wanted to start doing it again, writing and playing music, I wanted to, I missed it, and wasn’t trying to reconnect with something or be something that I used to be, there was no apprehension with like, “Oh, can I be this person?” I just thought, “Here’s something that I used to do,” because I was sober when I first started – I was like an 18 or 19 year old straight edge kid when I started writing and there were no boundaries or anything, and I don’t know, maybe I would’ve been the alcoholic drunk asshole writer…
‘Cause god knows we need more of those…
Right? There’s no shortage of those…so now I’m just trying to be creative and I’m writing things down and I’m happy with that. I don’t really have to tack that onto my sobriety or think that I need that to create. Oddly, I don’t think its the drugs in me; I think that being a really emotionally and mentally damaged person and just, ya know, suffering from depression is…hahaha…a massive benefit to my writing.
Well, regarding that, one of your poems in the new book “The Inquiry” kind of made me – I mean, maybe I wouldn’t have assumed this had I NOT known that you’ve had issues from sobriety and that you’ve been sober for so long – but I took from that poem that you coming to grips with being sober…
I think what’s wonderful about poetry, and that doesn’t work with fiction and certainly not with non-fiction, is that everything’s open to interpretation, so what something means to me – ya know, I can spend all day insisting that this is a poem and it should be read in a particular way or interpreted in a particular way – but once it’s out there, it’s out of my hands and that’s really the beauty of it. But yeah, I think that it’s clearly not a poem about joy, hahahaha…something like that is kind of grappling with the idea that I wanna be a good person for myself and for my family, yet there’s something sort of joyful in just being such an incredible fuck up that seems poetic and seems beautiful, but its such a hideous wreck – it’s that dichotomy…
Well, especially reading about writers too; ya know, you read a writer’s work and you sort of have this vague kind of idea of what their life must be like, and it seems sort of like the tortured, cigarette-smoking degenerate making this beautiful art and then you read these biographies of their lives later on and you’re just like, “Gosh, that is fucking awful!” haha, “That poor human being that suffered for so long!”
Who wants to live like that? But it’s this failure sleeping in a rented room – there’s just something really poetic about that. I mean, there’s nothing poetic about royalty or some fucking person who has someone washing their feet for them. That’s a fucking…ya know, what is that? That pampering, it’s just so dull!
Well, people love Proust so much and he’s so lauded, but that shit bores me to tears!
I was listening to this poetry podcast, and it was one of those older poets and it just…fucking…it just put me to sleep! It was just like, tragic in all of the worst ways – not a good tragic, like a terrible tragic.
A waste of what could have otherwise been a great talent…
Who’s to say if its bad or good, ya know? It’s on the reader to sort of excavate that, good or bad, like anything – like music or art. There are comedians I don’t find funny, but there’re people who laugh at their jokes, and who am I to say its not funny?
It achieves their goal, making people laugh so…
It’s funny, as you just said that I was reading the last line of “Matters/:” “…They do nothing for me.”
I know we talked about this the other day as far as explaining your work goes, and I know we talked a lot about the fact of enjoying our work as open to interpretation and that there’s no “wrong” interpretation – but you can’t help but be curious when reading someone’s work about whether you are “right” or not. That poem “Matters,” aside from being one of the more, um, what’s the word…elegant, maybe? I mean, it’s such a pretty piece of work, and I mean that in the best way. I was wondering if you did care to elaborate on any of your work at all or if you’re not interested in ruining the mystery as it were…
I don’t know, I mean, we’ve talked about things being open to interpretation and whether it’s important or not it’s…um…read the “right” way. I mean, there’s no “right” way really, but…
Do you remember where that one came from?
I’ve been criticized for years, and that’s unavoidable when you make art and people have a one-on-one with it. I mean, I’ve seen some terrible things said about me, and you get used to it. I remember somebody had written on a message board years ago that they were gonna stab me with a box cutter, and I wondered about it – a box cutter of all things; it just seemed so silly, and I realize now that they weren’t going to stab me with a box cutter, it was just a strange reaction to what I was doing, like, what? It has to go that far? You can’t just dislike it? You have to stab me with a box cutter? What a fucking absurd reaction to something, to something as trivial as music or art or words…
And I have a mental picture of someone just sitting in their room in front of their computer just stewing about it…
Right, like why don’t you go spend some time on something you care about? As opposed to fuming about this thing. I don’t think that shit ever bothered me, but I was always very aware of it, just years and years and years of that. It’s infuriating but it doesn’t matter, because they all have their opinion, and people put their opinion out there because their opinion is so very, very important that everyone needs to hear their opinion, and everyone wants to be praised for their opinion without ever realizing that everyone has an opinion – we have our heads filled with opinions, the things we see on television and in the media, the way this person is dressed while standing in front of you in line at the bank or…we’re filled with opinions and contrary opinions, and there’s nothing special about any of them, and there are critics who are praised for their opinions but they don’t even create anything, they don’t create art because they’re afraid of other people’s opinions. And there are people who are so shitty about their opinions that they go straight to creating things because they don’t wanna have to deal with the shit that comes their way, and so that poem is about everyone’s desire to put their shit on everyone else and how really trivial all of it is.
Let the evening shun me
Turn from me and kiss the cheek
Of better suited soil
An ear harkened to voice
In another room
Let the sun be my interloper
A fiery force
Pressing a scalding finger
Into my chest
Torching the lapel of my coat
As I move past
Your anonymously aired grievances
A righteous wheel
Churning heavy until punctured
By a rusted nail
Let your cowardly whispers
Lull you to sleep
They do nothing for me
It’s an interesting dichotomy between putting yourself out there and being a public figure and intentionally being a frontman or a frontwoman or a frontperson in a band, and then also being a very vulnerable sensitive human being, ya know? I know I’ve struggled with this, I’m sure you’ve struggled with this – sometimes you come to a point where you’re like, “Fuck! I don’t wanna open myself up to this! I don’t wanna put myself in front of the fucking guns if this is what the reaction is gonna be!”
Yeah, but I suppose the ends sort of justify the means to get there, and you kinda have to walk through the fire…and not even to then be praised once you go through, the end goal is to be able to create more and then to distribute that. That’s what’s really important – not so much a living or, like, “Oh, you made music, you’ve written a book, you will live on, you are now forever,” – that’s all well and good, but it’s great that someone’s going to get something from it and not necessary that you’ll know my name, that my name will be forever burned into the minds of the public.
Well, that whole mortality idea seems so self-indulgent…
Oh fuck yeah! Absolutely! And that’s why you have so many Youtube stars, these vapid people who have no real talent and nothing to say, they’re just sort of there to be seen. Like people are just famous and you can’t even figure out how they got to where they are, you can’t even figure out what they’ve done, why are they here, why do they have this kind of attention? It seems kind of undeserved – but who’s to say who deserves it?
They’ve existed and they’ve sought validation in that existence, basically…
Right, I mean, Kim Kardashian is gonna die someday and people are gonna be like, “Oh, why, she was a Kardashian,” and its like, what the fuck did she do? THAT’S what’s important, ya know, I have books that if the author’s name wasn’t on the front, it wouldn’t make the content any less important…
Right, that’s a very good point actually…
I wish people would sort of live by that and… I dunno, what the fuck do I know?
That’s a great segue into another one of the pieces I wanted to talk about actually, “Those Poets Searching For Love” – I think that deals a lot with the self-indulgent writer…do you remember what, in particular, inspired that?
I think the poem started, “The poet’s search for god,” and I’m always really irritated when I read…Christ…um…shit, I’m going blank right now, maybe Ginsberg is often referencing Buddha and that type of shit, and it’s so aggravating when I hear it. I don’t wanna sound like a self-important type of person, but I feel like, I don’t serve a greater being, what’s important to me is what’s in these words and sharing them and then reading the words of other people and reading poems – this is the real, the forever all-encompassing world to me…
I mean, to me that IS the greater being…
Right! Of Course! And so whenever I read these poems, I’m like “What the fuck IS this?” And it started to turn into a poem about half-assed people writing poetry just to write poetry, to write love poems. I have this guilty pleasure of reading really bad poetry online, and there’s SO much of it that it sort of picked up this original idea that I was writing, that there’re just so many people who have no life experience that they just write about how sad they were about this person they loved in, ya know, high school, and it just was disgusting. I remember being in Europe and walking the red light district in Amsterdam, and the first time we were there I just thought, “Well, we have to go see this!” because you’re just there standing next to drunk people who wanna sell you drugs like, “You wanna buy?” and sex for sale, and it’s like this really incredible thing and I really absorbed myself in it and partook in things that are not legal here – so I imagined someone kind of going there to have this experience, but being too afraid to deal with it, and just sort of seeing it from far away and telling themselves they’re very inspired by that type of tragedy and the poorness of this tragedy, but not really wanting to experience it.
Like the line “They visited Europe once
And while there
Drank coffee at adorable cafes”
I think Colum McCann had that line, “I lived a very happy life, it just doesn’t make for a very interesting one,” so, you gotta kinda get dirty and if you haven’t, I don’t know what you’re gonna tell me in a poem, what of your experience is now of value to me and is interesting?
I mean, I feel like if you have a good enough bullshit detector its gonna come through in the work, ya know?
Yeah, of course, yeah.
You can sniff out the truth
Yeah, haha, of course.
THOSE POETS SEARCHING FOR LOVE
Rambling on about the Buddha or another
Putting praise on the silk robe of some great outer being
Fancifully collapsing under the weight
Fucked up then and now
Fucked out how?
Talk of prayers
Talk of fears- they are one-in-the-same, you know-
Talk of cavernous crosses and charms
An elderly neighbour’s wind chimes
They visited Europe once
And while there
Drank coffee at adorable cafes
Walked past someone who might have been a prostitute
Witnessed a drug deal- from a safe distance
Then flew back to Deadcity America
Grace through the viewfinder
And awakening dull tusks
Under this washed banner
Convinces such a weak bulb to bloom?
Glory relayed to I
Someone is there
Responsible for dreams
Upon the page
From the turn of the sheep in shepard’s clothing
Reign o’ they
The false icon
I now have a store set up for anyone interested in purchasing my book. The first 100 copies include three postcards featuring art by the incredibly loving and talented cover artist @cadaverly. I would very much like to thank @permanentsleeppress for releasing this collection of poems. I am eternally grateful to everyone involved. Thank you. [STORE LINK IN BIO] #alexismarshall #aseaabovethepainsofouryouth #permanentsleeppress #poetry #booksdawg
Lastly I wanted to ask you if you had…do you have a favorite piece in the book?
I suppose right now I would say that the first poem in there, “A Greeting,” is maybe a favorite poem, I don’t know.
Why does that one in particular strike you?
I think you and I talked about this the other day, it was just a very bad experience to have as a child…
As a preface, for those that haven’t had a chance to read it, it deals with your childhood and your father…
Yeah, my father punched out a mirror. My parents were never really together, it was very brief and my mother was very, very young, my father was much older, and, you know, I was exchanged for the weekend. My father was living in this one room apartment type place and it just seemed like fucked up alcoholics and wounded vets that are all sharing a bathroom on the floor type of thing, it was just one room and then a kitchen. They were arguing and my father punched out this full-length mirror and sliced his arm open and we had to bring him to the emergency room. I don’t remember being very so free of the whole thing, it’s just I saw things like that, and it became something in my life. You know, my wife, her family is still together and they’re all happy, and there’s all this closeness with siblings and they had a mother and father, and when she read that poem she was just aghast at how horrible that experience would be for a child, like a 4 year old, to watch that happen. It’s a very personal poem, it’s also long, but writing that poem and having her read that and getting her take on it and what she experienced, it changed that experience in my head and I tried to look at it in a different way. Especially with my boy, I don’t want him to see anything like that, and I don’t want that to be his experience in his life, and for his memories to be that time his father punched a mirror and used his arm to stop the slamming door of a car or some insane woman throwing a brick through the window while I’m sleeping on the couch. They’re not good memories, but they’re just…memories…and they were so common that they are obviously affecting me, and have affected me, but I can’t even see how they affect me anymore, like I can’t say, “Oh I behave this way because of this,” it’s just like these are just things and an accumulation of all of this shit has done whatever its done to me and…why?
I mean, its like hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the radio or something, ya know? Like its so ubiquitous that you don’t even know if its a good song or not anymore….
Right, like it’s just a thing that you hear. I feel like it was sort of common in a way, ya know, like we’re trash poor and on welfare and I have a young mother trying to figure it all out working the shittiest jobs and my father not even being there, like, fucking horrific. So I don’t know, I suppose as a poem obviously it’s a horrible experience, but, it stood out more and I think that’s why I wanted it to be the first thing in the book, because of this value that is now has to me that I’ve seen it through my wife’s eyes and then realized that I shouldn’t have seen tha…
Well I think one of the things about it being the first poem in the book, too, on a much deeper and more subconscious level, that could’ve been what even lead to this book in the first place…
Yeah, I mean writing about experiences, and we were talking about this earlier, lyrically, it’s not as personal as a song, and this is much more intimate, and trying to read the liner notes in a record isn’t giving you any idea of who I am. I feel like reading this book I just kind of figured out not how the pieces go together, but seeing, “Oh, here’s a corner piece,” and this disgusting part, the blood splatter, wow these pieces must go together in this general area…
Yeah, all of this comes from somewhere, I haven’t thought about this actually, but I think it’s pretty poignant that is the opening piece of the book.
I hadn’t really thought about that ’til you just said that – I felt like I had different reasons, and then you said that, and it’s perhaps in the back of my head in some way, I dunno…
It might’ve been in Brockton, MA’
Father’s single room
A small kitchen connected
A communal bathroom down the hall
A boy- about five years old-
From parent to parent,
While mother’s friend
An argument, taking place,
About something or other,
Clubs a full length mirror
With his left forearm
And christens the tiny residence
And bad luck
Though decades pass
There is a vivid memory
Of sitting in the backseat of a car,
His bleeding arm wrapped in a t-shirt,
Looks at mother’s waiting friend
And says: hi
And the boy wonders
If the two have met before