Fly on the Wall (Poetry)

Back in the 2000s I loved this soft rock band
That I learned about through an online forum.
The songwriter was a working-class fellow
Who wrote about failed relationships,
About how everything was disappointing,
About his hope to disappear in romance,
And about keeping his head above water,
Because he could barely afford to pay the rent.

Listening to his/their sad songs
Made me feel there were other people
Who felt as though they had no choice
About the person they were forced to be,
But still tried to make good things happen,
Although they feared nothing would come of it.
The songwriter was following a calling within
That would likely lead him to his doom
(If you had to swim, it was fine to drown).

As he shared every song on the forum,
I was awed by this guy’s enthusiasm,
Not to mention his unique talent,
And how hard he focused on creating stuff
So his little band could one day make it big.

This guy reminded me of myself
(I loved to believe I was talented,
Particularly if I didn’t have to prove it).
He shared similar feelings and thoughts,
Although we came from different backgrounds.
His world view was much more mature,
Which made his music seem realer
(I didn’t need to pay the rent,
So I didn’t know how it felt
To be one step away
From poverty).

I went through hard times, a bad relationship
(I wish I had never met you, M.;
You have to be a bitch to call your ex
And tell him that a new dick feels better,
As much as it takes a pathetic guy
With self-hate and abysmal self-esteem
To take your fucking calls),
And I had to leave most of my tastes aside,
While I feared what might become of me
(At least I don’t have to worry anymore;
My life has gone far beyond my control).

When I returned to being on my own
(As I should have always been),
I recalled that the aforementioned band
Existed at all, and I hadn’t dreamed it up
During one of my psychotic breaks
(I want to erase the memories of those years).
Yeah, their existence was proof for me
That I wasn’t crazy; I actually existed
In some sort of alternate dimension.

Although they had been selling albums online,
I was no longer able to find any trace of them
(They seemed to have been scrubbed
By someone who wanted them gone).
That online forum had disappeared.
I had formatted the drive that had the songs.

Sometimes, my mind replayed the echoes,
As well as what I could remember of the lyrics,
All the while I wondered where those guys were now,
Because I was pretty sure that their band was no more.

As I was cleaning my place, I found a CD
That contained, among forgotten stories,
All of their songs I had downloaded then.
After I listened to their tracks again,
I remembered why I was drawn to them,
How refreshing it was to hear such feelings,
Of someone who struggled in a similar way.

Now that I’m older, I hear them differently.
The guy talked about the pressure to create,
How every day felt wasted if he didn’t make
Part of a song, or worked on their lyrics.
In one of the last songs, the guy spoke about
Having gotten tired of playing with paper swords,
And that from then on he would seek security.

(When I was a child we caught a bird,
Then put it in a cage as a new pet;
It suffered a heart a attack and died.
It didn’t even take a whole day.
Sometimes I think of the newborns
That the bird probably needed to feed.)

As a lanky, pimply teen, I wrote like crazy.
I spent a few years writing a psychotic story
About colonial marines in deep space,
Which would have interested nobody
(Because it was a complete piece of shit).
When I read some of the pages, I was appalled
By the disordered, broken mind it revealed
(Those drafts embarrassed me so much
That I burned them after reading,
Then threw away my computer
And shot myself in the head).

Back then I was on the verge of hanging myself;
I wrote to stay afloat, to make it somewhere,
Although I already knew I’d never find my place.
Something I miss from those days is the fire
To write something meaningful each and everyday
(I wish I could spend the rest of my life
Just sitting at my desk, typing out thoughts
That are hidden inside me),
The feeling nothing matters except creating art;
For me every day without writing was wasted.

For many years I gave up my dreams for security.
I studied to become a programmer, worked as one
(Barely above minimum wage, and terrible hours).
I discovered that my broken mind wouldn’t tolerate
Nor be accepted in any private office’s culture
(I got a series of ‘You won’t work well in a team’,
Always by supervisors who weren’t technicians;
The bosses I worked with were fine with me.
All those supervisors were always women
Against a less than stellar example of a man,
And it’s hard to avoid seeing that pattern
In our society at large, not just in that industry).

Eventually I got too old to be exploited as a dev,
So I worked for a while as a freelance merc,
But most of the months I wasn’t getting paid,
Although I worked my ass off full time
(I never want to receive again calls at 1 AM
Because some crazed client wants a feature).

I enjoyed programming a version of DF
(‘Dwarf Fortress’, that old grail, a total mess),
But you need a whole team to make a game.

I spent years doing nothing but gaming,
Listening to music, reading, browsing the net,
And masturbating copiously,
Because I was sure I wouldn’t fit in anywhere.

I learned how to play guitar, played it in the woods,
But only writing stuff ever felt truly right
(Meanwhile, my parents paid for most things;
Maybe it was fair, after they raised me to be shit).

I now work in IT for a hospital,
Which is garbage, but it pays well
(I’ve learned to hate computers).
If I had stayed as a musician,
I’d probably be dead,
Or a poor alcoholic,
Or maybe in jail
(I’ve been busted twice,
Because I was under the influence
Of painkillers).

I always look forward to being unemployed.
Some people say that you have to work,
Because that ennobles you or something.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s slave mentality,
That’s like having to believe that pain is good
Because no pills get rid of your constant aches
(So you have to befriend them or else go insane).

I’d rather have some people supporting me,
Paying my bills and the roof over my head,
Even if most days I would only masturbate,
And occasionally produce some sort of text.

Writing struck me when I was young:
It felt so good to escape reality,
To tell stories that no one else could see.
It’s something I can do by myself, in silence
(Or talking to myself, acting out the dialogue).

I didn’t need anyone else to understand me,
Or to cheer me up, or to tell me what to write.
People were always involved in everything else,
And they kept me away from doing what I liked.
All I have to worry about is being lazy,
And when I am sick of it all, I’ll stop writing.

From 2012 to 2018, I tried my best in Spanish,
Writing serious stuff that might sell enough to eat.
I couldn’t even get along with the local writers;
I didn’t understand their reasons for writing,
And their brains worked differently from birth.

After I self-published two books and nobody cared,
That tainted all the effort I put into my stuff.
Writing had ceased to be fun like it used to.
I stopped writing for a while, the words were dry.
I grew angry, bitter, confused, depressed.
All of my efforts seemed pointless in retrospect.

When I was a child, I knew I wouldn’t get published,
But that didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted.
Now that I’m older, I realise just how much trouble
I’d have had to go through for them to publish me,
How many asses even normal people have to kiss.

When I was twenty one or so, I had given up
On what I cared about as a kid, to become an adult.
I would move to the capital, work at some job
(Live my life by rules invented by other people),
Get married to that girl, have a couple of kids,
Get verbally abused because I was insufficient
(I would be weak and take it, like my father),
Live in poverty and pay off all my debts.
I would soon forget all about what felt right,
As well as those weird dreams I had as a child.
I would forget that I never wanted to grow up
To just live the same old, boring routine,
And waste the rest of my life until I died.

When I was younger I thought that getting old
Would mean losing the motivation for living,
And that’s mostly true, but I can still feel
The same desire I had as a child to create
(In spite of having to work a shitty 8 to 3).
I enjoy the feeling of translating
Into words what is inside me.

Even now, as I write this at work (at 9 PM),
I’ve never managed to land a stable job,
And given how I was born, I never will
(In addition, the world has gone to shit).
That means likely never owning a house,
Never having a wife, nor a bunch of kids
(Those are rare daydreams, gene-driven;
I lack the instinct to socialize).
I have lost this game, so I can write for fun
(I suppose I could kill myself;
There’s always time for that down the line).

I’m thirty six years old these days,
And for the foreseeable future
(Until I turn thirty seven years old),
But mentally I’m eighteen or so,
And that’s unlikely to change:
When I was a child I felt much older,
When I was eighteen I felt my age,
And from then on I failed to progress,
But those who had a problem were others
(Like romantic partners I had to impress).

I’m a single man for life, as far as I care,
Because I’m not giving up my stuff,
Everything that truly matters to me
(Everyone else can eat shit).
I’ll keep writing until I die and rot away.
I’ll always be able to use it to escape reality.

My point is, I remember you, Tim,
And the songs you used to make.
I hope you didn’t die and shit.
I’m sure you got married, got kids,
And had to give up on your dreams
(Unless your dreams now involve
Being married and raising kids).

All’s well that ends well
As long as you are happy,
But I have the sneaking suspicion
That you aren’t, nor would I be;
Someone who hears the calling
Of the creative life can’t be happy
Unless he cuts himself to bleed.

Blood flows from the wound
(That will only close when you die)
And from the heart, which can tell
That it was the blood’s song
Which the artist heard,
A voice that said, ‘Now paint!’,
‘Now write!’, ‘Now compose!’
(I’m not sure what musicians hear;
I never felt like writing a song,
But I play other people’s songs).

It’s as though the artist
Was a young boy again
(Or girl, I guess; I have a dick),
And his mother, watching him sleep,
Sang him lullabies in her breast
(I imagine big, soft breasts,
Perennially full of milk).

(I daydream of a woman
Who would let me suck on hers
For the entire day if I wanted,
No questions asked.)

‘Fly on the Wall’ by Jon Ureña

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