If I had a nickel for every word I wrote…
Child, it’s a lot of nickels. You don’t even know. Enough nickels to make heaping cartoonish mountains of currency in unfathomably large caverns. It looks like glitter. Dunes of disco ball bits. Enough nickels to bedazzle all the cars in a parking garage. Enough nickels to pave Main Street with a wash of silver. To gut every vending machine in the tri-county area with the flickering knife of “ka-plink, ka-plink, ka-plink” through the heart of the coin slot. From mighty coin purse. From mighty thumbs. Nickels: the skittering buttons. Like fish scales.
Nickels: the coin. Like hard circles of thinly compressed base metals that I haven’t legitimately used in years. Like child-choking-hazard. Like clutter-the-desk. Like lost-and-no-one-noticed.
Nickels: like words.
I am useful in that I have a mildly apparent talent for rearranging marks on a page that you will read and enjoy. People call these sentences. I call playing with them “writing”. It’s important that I do this kind of useful because many of my fellow humans get lost in language, unwilling to walk hand-in-hand with vocabulary or to wag the jaunty tail of the semi-colon. You need me because I’m a young millennial, and yet I usefully (arrogantly?) still know the subtleties of English syntax. Let’s practice:
I write because it’s what I enjoy doing with you, for you, in you, around you, obnoxiously; I write obnoxiously because it’s for me. Is me. I love it. Obnoxiously.
I write because I am useless. And I make a lot of useless every day. Sometimes the useless happens on a napkin. Or in a drafted text message on my phone. Punched out on a keyboard. On a legal pad – I don’t like notebooks. It happens here an awful lot. Sometimes it never leaves my head. Sometimes the useless seems so much of Not Important.
This has nothing to do with Jeffrey Skinner. Or his accomplishments in poetry. Or his book. Wait. That last one is a lie. This has everything to do with his book. Here: The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets. He wrote it. I read it. I finished it on Monday. This has everything to do with me and Jeffrey Skinner and his book, and me sitting in various chairs around town while reading his book and suddenly feeling relief that my uselessness is not lonely in this world.
Listen: There are, in fact, 6.5 practices outlined in 6.5 Practices. I’m not going to name them here. That’s cheating. Go read the book. The bullet points are not actually important here, anyway. The music is in the meat. And that, in my opinion, is the shining beacon of the book.