A Writer’s Complaint

I would rather die on the page
Than at 3am on the freeway
Driving to Salinas with the devil
At my back, an empty coffee cup
And a rancid fast food sack. 

I would rather crash and burn 
These words together 
Skidding unruly verbs
To see what thought sticks 
And which action hurts,
Than to spend a life stitching the edges
Of fragments of mundanity,
No matter what calamity:
Is all just boiled eggs, puke and bricks.

I would rather drown at 30,000 words
Than go down on that shaky fishing boat,
I can write myself a heroine
Who can teach the fishes how to float. 

I cannot fathom, no matter how simple
How I can live silent and still
Like a nun with her wimple
And her hands on the rosary,
Speaking old verse devoted to keeping
Her living far too hopefully.

Or stoic and hard working with
Washerwoman fingers, scrubbing 
The filth from a dozen miserable malingerers
With hungry infant faces 
And ravenous starving bellies
Who suck the marrow from the bones
Of a million regretful nannies. 

All these paper soldiers I write in
Acts one, two and three,
Shooting origami tigers
Up in molded plastic trees
Have no use of bullets, just
Staccato rhyming meter.
Their glory runs on adjectives,
Their deaths mostly conjured up imagined 
In shades of cordite and saltpeter.
But nothing cools the ardor
Of those ravenous hungry hordes
That I wrote last Thursday,
Or dulls the silver of their swords.

No smile will ever be as lovely
As the one on the protagonist's lips
As she realized beauty and how
Everything about her neatly fit.
No, life is not as concise
Nor edited for clarity,
Most of us bobble along hopeful 
For some act of human charity.
Soul mates do not find each other
Walking down the road,
Of if they do the princess is left
Realizing she has kissed some
Mean old ugly drunken toad. 

I have no use for realism,
Magic or otherwise,
I don't wish to write another
Episode of lords and kings and flies.
I don't care much for romance,
At least that is what I say,
But as I wrote them kissing
My mind started to fray.

Horror is always with me,
Drama, my greatest enemy,
And when I am happily tapping,
The laptop on my knee,
Everything is so ordered
And lives so wild and free.
I keep thinking I should get out
Talk to someone living,
But then a brawl breaks outside
And sends the daytime reeling. 

I would rather die on the page
And then breathe some life back
In by the next chapter,
Than deal with the hostile reality 
Made by others who live to make that
Looking glass mirror world 
Crack from side to side and shatter. 
I've had my seven years
Over and over again -
And yet more tragedy
Comes pouring out this pen. 

I don't want to admit words
And lives are linked -
Flesh and ink, 
But of course they are;
You can't destroy the world
Only write it into lack of limitations
If I could only live in the pages
I wouldn't have to dream of no
Creative insurrection. 

But my rebellion is contained
In syllables and principles,
It lives for tiny moments
Like the gilding on church steeples,
It is quashed and it is reasoned with,
It is sullen and it is tired
And every night when I put 
The pen down, the muse threatens
Me with ideas 
Or else boasts about
Trying to get me fired. 


  1. Ellie Thompson

    What a wonderful piece of poetry! It’s excellent, and I enjoyed it so much. You are very talented. This is the first post I’ve read of yours, and I’m very impressed. I’m looking forward to reading more of them. I loved the spoken word recording too. Were the narrator for that?

    1. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

      Hello! Yes, I record all my own work, and it is all on my soundcloud poetry channel – https://soundcloud.com/detroit-richards-539793049
      I am so glad you enjoyed the piece. I spend a lot of time writing about sad and painful, but rarely just have fun. I am currently editing the first 40,000 words of a novel that I am writing, and decided that a poem was in order to commemorate the process. Very nice to meet you, Ellie!

      1. Ellie Thompson

        Thanks for the link – I’ll take a listen. I love spoken word poetry. I have to say, I’ve written my fair share of sad and painful posts (some poems), but that was a good while back. I’m feeling a bit more positive now, so I tend to write about more positive things (not always, though). I can only write poems when the mood takes me. Forty thousand words is a heck of a lot of pages to edit, especially when there’s a whole load more to edit after that. A poem is an excellent way to commemorate such an occasion.

      2. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

        I look forward to getting to know your work too. I am so sorry to hear you went through a period of painful times. I am a ruthless editor of my own work. I have to say I don’t enjoy editing much, but it needs to be done. Really nice to meet you, Ellie and thank you for much for the feedback, it is very much appreciated!

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