Writer's Block


So there’s this thing.
I’m sure you’ve heard of it--
The punishment dished out by the creative gods
To those unworthy of the craft, 
This fickle thing,
This petty nuisance they call Writer’s Block.

At the time of this poem’s conception (September 2017),
I’m feeling mentally abused, 
Creatively confused,
Like a fuse with too many functions,
Like this line itself means nothing,
It was just a placeholder to stall the emotional tension I now feel,
On this very line,
Unable to produce much else but a rhyme,
I guess I now understand the mumble rapper’s plight. 

This poem will henceforth be known as Writer’s Block,
Because I’m convinced that if my fingers keep moving,
My spirit will stay still. 
But it feels like every word--every phrase--
Takes more and more ownership over me.
Every pause and apprehension about the weight
That my words carry in the hearts of an invisible audience
Further delays my writer’s freedom from his cage,
And mother didn’t raise no animal, just a beast,
So with some divine grace, I’ll try to explain
The three ways to escape the curse of Writer’s Block.

Like the future king of the Elephant Graveyard,
The Pride Lands, and everything in-between,
Flee from hyenas looking to eat,
Because although naive pride has exposed you,
Life still holds you, breath still flows from your nostrils, 
And time has not put the period on your story--

See. That resolution...to me, that was boring.
That doesn’t sound like the jaw-dropping poetry
That commands thousands of views on YouTube.
And so I ask myself, 
Can I really move and woo with these trite punchlines
And compulsive rhyme schemes?
Are these words really instruments designed for a
Masterful symphony and bestowed on me by the One,
Or are these words just manufactured pieces
On a chessboard for one?

I would carve a hole of guilt in the throat of my moms
Every time she compared me to that one cousin
Who did what he was told and graduated valedictorian,
As if the value of her children came down to
Who made her look the most impressive,
And then summon the nerve to forget my weighted words
As I plunge into the same curse of comparison, 
Stuck on a curb tossing stones at my reflection,
Cursing the ripples for not being waves,
Discontent because my simple talents
Beg for attention in the wake, in the shadow
Of other poets, other musicians, I become
Discontent with my own existence.
At this point, what was meant to be inspiration
Has turned to indignation and convoluted whispers.
But to be fair, if I wanted what he had,
I would work harder. 
If I really wanted the perks of her platform,
I would overcome my indolence.
At this point, I have become insolent,
Her image and his skills have become limits and anchors on my vision and
I have begun to mimic the mannerisms of man,
And some might say this is innocent, natural, 
But what is natural about idolizing Adam’s image
Because I have lost patience with the One
Whose image crafted all other images?
Funny how ignorance creeps into a corner of my cerebral cortex
By blasting my inner conversations with loud reminders
Of this booby-trapped obstacle course known as life. 
We can dodge, strategize, or even hide, 
But that won’t complete the course. 
So I must run, 
From these bitter thoughts and mood swings,
Even if my words hobble across the page,
I must run from my discontent with inadequacy, 
From the blasphemy of a life where I am both
Narrator and protagonist,
Because there’s only One.

Your pride, your fear,
Whatever’s got you thinking
That you deserve to win,
Or that it should be easy,
Or at least easier,
Because if life was a game
Only those accustomed to pain would gain,

See. There I go again
With wack lines and clichés,
That’s it. I quit.
Or I would if I could, 
If my being wack was a legitimate reason for quitting.
If this game had but one rule, 
It would probably be
That you could only quit if your soul could bear the distance
Between who you are
And who you would be,
Had you learned to maintain,
Had you learned to make diamonds out of sand
Instead of these small, generic dirt hills you call sand castles
Because you were too scared to make something great,
Too scared to look silly in front of people frontin’
Like they ain’t scared to look silly. 
You were conditioned to believe that straight As
Would make you look really intelligent,
Taught to believe that “proper English”
Was a symbol of education and intelligence,
You were bamboozled,
Trained and mastered
To live in the shadow of your own persona. 
Winning attitude, winning smile,
They taught you how to win,
Better yet, 
They taught you to pretend,
To look like a winner,
To win or die,
To compete,
To despair if you failed,
To smile and stunt,
To strive for number one
‘cause that’s the only place where your ego will be safe,
To find fault in everything but yourself
If you failed,
But they never taught you how to fail.
How to lose.
How to rise.
How to fight.
So ultimately, you lose,
Because you’re too scared to lose,
Too scared to be number two.

Review, then breathe, then write, then sleep. 

When gifts come with expectations
And luxuries become necessities
you lose.

When it becomes less about the piece,
and more about you,
you lose.

When the noise of what they think weighs more
than the beast and beauty at the ballpoint of your pen,
you most definitely

Most importantly,
when you mistake your words for law,
when you pretend you know it all,
when you forget what to say
because all you know is all you know
and the detour eclipses the destination*

*We regret to inform you that this piece has been listed as a casualty of writer’s block. However, we encourage you to find your own ending to this poem.

His Pen, Pad, & Headphones


Cover Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash