Pep Talk from Sisyphus

When you feel apple vinegar
in the open scabs of the webs
of your writing fingers,
that blend of shame and doubt
brewed in certain seasons
as you lay the brick and mortar
of your stories story by story,
these words:
                                                                 It is better to have written it
                                                                 wrong than not to have had
                                                                 the gall to fill the page
                                                                 in the first place.
Know your words are leeches on Victorian skin, sucking
poison and bad humor from your body
                                                                 (Let them, man, let them suck
                                                                 those varicose worries
                                                                 until their bellies are plump
                                                                 as children’s thumbs)
26 letters and a buckshot of endings are all you’ve got
against the slick glass and endless noise of this world,
a world that distracts you from the stage set
it really is.
So write.
Write and write and write and write.
Eat and love too, but get them down
on paper for yourself to know
there was a life.
It was yours.
It was strange.
It was the way you needed to be.



M.C. St. John is a writer who teaches–and a teacher who writes–in Chicago. His poetry has been published in After Hours Press and Unbroken Journal. He is currently working on a collection of poetry, a collection of short stories, and a collection of words that will soon take shape as a novel.

Cover Photo: Pascal (