Better When I Was Worse


I can’t help but wonder if I was a better writer when every part of my life and psyche was still an interminable mess, back before I figured out how to get it just a little together.

Or at least before I learned how to make it look that way.

Back in the before days when I was still living in an Ani Difranco song and a Warhol film and Cobain’s diaries.

When I was the cliche and the metaphor and the lesson not learnt.

An angry Molotov cocktail of reckless indulgence and toxic self-destruction, raging against a world that never felt like my own and a mind I never wanted to claim as such.

The words came easier then, bleeding ink onto yellow legal pads and diner napkins. A violent scrawl, stark against the crisp white of a bar tab or slashed through bitter, midnight coffee rings.

Half-formed thoughts carelessly scribbled in blue biro, red lipstick and black eyeliner, smudged and raw like the first bloom of a fresh bruise, and just as tender to the touch.

Lines of paradox and prose, of musings and meaning and metaphor, lying, forgotten now, in a landfill somewhere with the rest of the refuse of youth.

How easy it seemed then, to pour myself onto the pages, vomiting up my narcissistic insecurities and sleepless dreams. Purging myself of equivocal questions and the vicious cycle of answers that weren’t, not really. Just more questions without the punctuation to mark them as such.

I was braver then, or perhaps stupider though the two are often one and the same.

I am still angry. Still bleeding the violent insecurities of the eternal insomniac and I’m not sleeping but I want, so desperately, to wake up.

Wake up and remember how I felt before I was afraid to die, before I was afraid to live, before the contradiction churned sick in my stomach, seizing my lungs.

Suffocating on a forced breath tinged with the cyanide sweetness of another cigarette, and then another, choking on the consonants and vowels incomprehensibly tangled in my throat.

A parody of my former self, impotently tongue-tied and clinging to the latent inspiration of a half-lived life, the casualty of a private war.

I never did stop fighting.

Perhaps I’m not so different, here with my ink stained fingers curled lax around a coffin nail and the haze of my delusion curling soft and grey in the air… Or perhaps that is the fallacy of false hope.

But I am a writer and so I write, pulling words like teeth from the jaws of life, waiting with bated breath for the sting of the bite.

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