from: Gordon Flanders <firstname.lastname@example.org>
to: Babe <email@example.com>
date: Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 11:07 AM
subject: sympathy pains
Has it been two weeks? Did we agree on once a week? I’m sorry but I’m sure you don’t mind. Really there’s no point in stabbing the river of time with red pins and hoping it will behave.
I had a dream about you. I woke up sweating and scared, but not because I drowned in the end.
On a different night than that one, I woke up after drinking spiced rum and had a terrible headache. I don’t drink spiced rum, I don’t get headaches and I have a low tolerance for physical pain. I lay there believing I would die, like the first time I smoked pot. I thought of you, and wondered how you were able to get anything done at all. After two glasses of Alka-Seltzer and twenty minutes of wishing I had morphine or Vicodine, the headache suddenly disappeared. I felt high, then, and I thought: have I been living like this the whole time? In a state of comparative euphoria?
I can’t believe you read aloud, or had someone read aloud, your last letter. I tried to listen to a similar link under one of your poems, but it didn’t work for me. You are like a phantom now. I hear your voice speaking your thoughts, but I don’t see you. I am afraid to record my voice and afraid to hear what I’ve written read out loud. I am not afraid of ghosts.
I have written nothing. I have read nothing. I work and work. Work is the best, and a certain numbness, a merciful numbness, said DH Lawrence. I stopped reading Thoreau. No time for that, not even on the train, where I have to think about things that I am forgetting. I’ve had Ham on Rye on my desk for three months. I thought having it nearby would facilitate the process of ingesting it. Maybe it has been six months. At least its yellow and blue cover match the white and brown desk.
I realized in a dream that the funniest people exist over an ocean of sadness. The dream was so strange, because I was doing normal things, and there was nothing bizarre about it. I was standing near my couch, feeling like I should die. I think in my dream I had the day off, which was nice for a change, or was it? I was feeling so sad and I thought it was stupid to do, but then I realized that the price of greatness was to be forever floating on a sea of something horrid and gut-wrenching, whether it be sadness, self-loathing, hatred, whatever. I suppose some great artists can sing from a garden of love. I suppose I am wrong. But what I realized in the dream was that if this was the cost of creating great art, I should instead write funny stories about one dimensional people. I should do anything rather than swim in that darkness. I should do anything rather than be this person.
If I am close to assimilating the darkness below, I am also more keenly aware that I, and you, are but matches struck and tossed into the gutter. If I speak of abysses below or above, of mastering or surrendering, perhaps I would do better to shut up and experience my moment.
All the best, forever and ever,