Definitely prior to 2008. Best guess: around 2003(or possibly older).  It has a flow and atmosphere like a lot of the stuff I was writing in my early 20s – sort of airy and rambling.  I think I spent a lot of time toying with empty spaces in the early 2000s, which I’m less inclined toward now that I understand the way I work a little better.

In my early 20s, I remember being very focused on making poems look exactly as I would read them; something that generally ended in failure.  I can definitely see signs of those efforts in this piece.  I would sit there and move a word, a line, use odd punctuation or funny spacing, because I was still married to the concept of poetry being a sort of visual artistry. Since I didn’t have a computer until college; and had no real concept of certain formatting being far more complex on, say, a blog, my poetry brain still thought in typewriter.  It wasn’t until around 2002-2003 that I really started to understand the conventions of computing. That’s not a judgement for or against, really, just an observation that I’m using to try and date this piece.

So older pieces tended to be much more visual because, as a student, I thought poetry was ‘stuff that goes in books’, which is just not how I feel about it now. It’s more realistic to say that poetry CAN be a visual art, but it doesn’t have to be, and that was something I didn’t understand at the time, because I was young and really hadn’t seen much poetry performed to really understand those contextual differences, and how your priorities can shape the final form.

These days, my approach is more aural. I do pay attention to visual effect, because I know it’s not always convenient for readers to click on video links, or sound clips, so I want those two things to translate to one another as well as possible, but I’m also aware that when I’m writing, I’m writing for the ears, not the eyes.  That was something I didn’t really understand about myself a decade ago, and it was the cause of a sense of general frustration with poetry as an art form, and the fact I couldn’t just let it go and save myself the headaches, which is why I’m guessing ‘The Addict’ had to be written when I was in one of those phases, where I was struggling over the marriage of sight and sound.

(As a completely random aside, I’m thinking about changing templates for the blog to something a bit cleaner, but…undecided. You might see the template change quite a bit in the near future. Still thinking about it.)

The Addict

I am
an assassin of trees.
A history of crumpled pages
flutters across my lawn–
words that are less than words.
Phrases, tattered, that neither begin nor end.
Stories that will never be told.
Scrap paper scars.
Smeared red ink (a crutch)
tumbling where arrows lead–
the first leaves of autumn
clinging to metaphors.

I am
a perpetual debutante.
My tripping tongue on display for squirrels
and birds
who now know me better than anyone:
a success at failing,
an alphabet addict–
a Junkyard Poet
(add me to the heap)
tearing myself

I am.