In late 2016, depression hit me hard. Everything about my life made me feel stuck. I hadn’t made any sort of art in two years. It had been at least three years since my last show. The changing of the seasons, on top of everything else, had me really far down. One day that fall, I woke up and decided that would be my last day. I got in shower, decided I’d like to have one last lunch with my wife, then I’d kill myself. There was a short list of things I wanted just one more time. One more cup of coffee, another pipe of Dunhill, one last beer with my best friend. Before I’d left to go to lunch, I thought it sounded like a good idea to write ten final poems. At the time, it would have been around six years since I’d written anything (I wrote “Couch to Couch” when I was 17-21). It sounded like a nice way to leave something other than a note. I made a promise to myself that day. No matter what happened, how I delayed suicide, I’d not put it off for too long.
I got six or seven poems done before going to lunch. My wife convinced me it would be a good idea to get that beer with my friend right after lunch, so I did. Luckily, he was able to meet me. We had a drink, then I went home to write my last few poems. As the story goes, those few poems turned into a bunch of poems. Writing poetry is like Jazz to me. I improvise as I go and don’t look back at what I’ve done. The feeling I had while writing those first forty or so poems was something that I hadn’t had in so long. I don’t remember what it felt like now, but I imagine I feel it a lot more since I’ve been writing so much this year.
“That Which Gets in the Way” is the poetic documentation of what was going through my mind as I was depressed, drunk, and suicidal. As I felt better over time, my writing improved, my drinking lessened, and I started feeling better. Granted, I felt better because things in my life overall were improving. This collection, though, it followed me from a point where I was sitting on my bed holding my Walther PPK in my hand to where I am now, not even able to think about taking my own life. It’s all in chronological order. You’ll see the change in my writing as you read it front to back. Not that you have to read it in order, but I think that’s a pretty neat journey. It ends with me breaking a promise to myself. I wasn’t checking out early. I’m in control. Putting off the unthinkable to write a few poems started something inside of me that saved my life.
These days, almost a year after that day, I’ve accomplished a ton. I wouldn’t have published “Couch to Couch” or “four”, let alone this new collection, if I’d made a different choice. I’m a little more than halfway done with my first novel, a quarter of the way done with another, and planning on finishing a first draft of a third next month for NaNoWriMo. Not that I’m trying to be braggadocios, I’m just saying that things are looking way up for me. That they could’ve been extremely different. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year and I plan on continuing that learning.
So, I hope you really enjoy my book. It’s dirty, gritty, sometimes straightforward, sometimes surreal, and most definitely sad. It’s the most honest I’ve ever been on paper. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for checking it out.