40th Anniversary Feature: THIS IS THE STORY OF HIS LIFE

Sep 23, 2013Archive, Feature

BWR Editor 2000-2001


This is the story of his life he drew up around himself: what catches his interest will not hold his interest. That part is a given. One man’s sneeze. Another man’s bow tie.——I just talked to Ellen I just talked to Ellen I said I just talked to that coffee place is where I am—— is what he hears the scruffy skin-and-bones espresso sipper say. All one tangled breath.

The pretty big-glasses girl he knows from somewhere twirls her tangled hair at the register.

Composition is a mess.

The songster says everything is collage. The poet who writes novels writes she said collage is the greatest of all the arts. Which is not true. It is the opposite.

The other said what the other said.

Songster Poet | Poet Songster.

Said is the same thing as wrote.

Given of course the poet writes novels. Etc.

——this is going nowhere…——


——…in fits and starts…——


——I will abandon this. Put it down. Some dull metal tool I use to dig into the ground or else its opposite which is firmament which sounds the same but isn’t. It’s true. But it’s a metaphor. I’ll put down this digging tool. The foreman’s red-faced spit-and-shout. I’ll put it down and walk away.——

Rustic table. Whir. Milk froth tips our lap-top-man’s long nose.

——I won’t hold this heavy metal tool. Distort it with it the real ground or sky. I’ll put it down. I promise you. It’s true. ‘Who are you talking to he said I said I just talked to Ellen hello…’——

All it takes is a sound bite.

If he could make it right for you he would could might.

This is the story of his life.


It doesn’t much matter what it means.



TJ Beitelman is the author of a book of poems, In Order to Form a More Perfect Union, and the forthcoming novel, John the Revelator, both published by Black Lawrence Press. He teaches writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, and can be found on-line at www.tjbman.com and at www.try101.org.

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