On Being Off
Sometimes you’re just off, you feel so off, you wonder if you were ever really on.
They keep saying that writing is a muscle. You know how you’re out of shape? Not you, I mean, I don’t really know you, but me, I mean. But you’re so far out of shape that the expression doesn’t really even apply anymore, because to be out of shape implies that you were once in it. In a shape. They mean like a statue, like a rippling Michelangelo, though the first thing I think of tends to be a perfect cube, wooden and hollow. A crate.
And now you are not a shape.
You are liquid.
There are advantages to being liquid.
You fit, you move, you flow.
A little too easily maybe, and downhill.
See what I mean?
I’ve been off poetry. This is neither a success nor a failure. It’s a change of state.
Maybe it’s because I’m not new anymore and the welcome party has worn off, or because I moved to the middle of winter, or because I don’t believe in anything, or because I ran out of ideas, or because I couldn’t figure out how to write poems about zombies, or because [blame the internet], or because I gave up, or because I melted in the sun, or because it’s hard and I’m lazy, or because nothing means anything anymore, or because young people these days, or because I want to be cool, or because I have nothing to say, or because everyone’s doing it now, or because it’s not fun anymore, or because I’m tired, or because it’s the end of the world.
Well, actually, that sounds like failure, doesn’t it?
I want to have it all. Baby. I want poetry, prose, comics, a double shot of scriptwriting, even a song. I want arch-villains, beaches, very serious issues, car chases and internal rhyme. I want to collaborate, infiltrate, organize and publish. I want to go to sleep right here on the couch.
But one thing at a time. O, God.
I want to read something that doesn’t glow.
I am a loser.
Lately I’ve wanted a world in which professors don’t sleep with students. I’ve been doing it for eight years. Not sleeping with my students, I mean. Sleeping with students turns out to be remarkably easy to avoid. Actually, it never seems to come up. But then again, I’m just a loser and a failed poet, so I guess not worth the trouble.
Why bother with any of it, really.
I’m going to go off and write my novel now. It’s about an actor who once starred in a Bertolucci film. He loves his teddy bear. He runs for President. His mistress drowns in a bathtub. There are zombies.
K.I. Press’s most recent book of poetry is Exquisite Monsters (Turnstone, 2015). She is a student in the Optional Residency Creative Writing MFA program at UBC. She teaches creative writing in Winnipeg.