The writing prompts for the past two days of NaPoWriMo sent me into some sort of nostalgia fever dream, and I lost a whole afternoon to thoughts of the mixtapes I used to record on actual cassette tapes, the slow, careful process of cuing up a song on your dual cassette deck, the search for those short, sweet songs to fill the last few inches of tape, the labor involved in handwritten track lists. The love, the unbearable tenderness we infused into our homemade compilations. The emotions we projected on to them. The hopes they carried.
Obviously, I am in some sort of mood. Yesterday’s prompt, which encouraged us to write about a forgotten technology, obviously made me think of mixtapes, but I couldn’t figure out how to write a poem about them in a world where High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, and the film High Fidelity starring John Cusack, and the television series High Fidelity starring Zoe Kravitz all already exist. Then I read the poem mentioned in the prompt (“Blue Screen of Death” by Adam Clay) and realized no poem I ever wrote about mixtapes would ever be that good. So I decided to sleep on the mixtape idea and see what I could come up with tomorrow (a.k.a. today).
Then, today, the prompt asked us to write an ode to life’s small pleasures. I immediately thought of coffee and the impeccable Greg Brown song “Good Morning Coffee,” which always makes me smile.
Now is the time where I tell you I wrote a poem about coffee. Or a poem about mixtapes. Or both. But I just … couldn’t. I am full of ennui and what I would call existential despair if we didn’t all know it’s actually social distancing despair. I firmly believe we all should be staying home, potentially for much longer than we anticipate, but I am also concerned that I may never see my family (and my sister’s kids in particular) again. I am concerned about not being able to work. I am concerned about my favorite chefs and bartenders and servers and restaurant managers not being able to work. I am concerned about not being able to go to the library. Still, we’re inside. We need to stay inside. So I decided the poems I wrote today should also turn inward. I decided to use the horoscopes Chani Nicholas did for my sign (Taurus) in February, March, and April as source texts, and I turned these into three erasure poems.
Today I listened to the new Fiona Apple album, which my social networks have been literally raving about, while I wrote. I just don’t know how I feel about it yet. It could be that I just can’t move out of the 90s right now. I can’t forget seeing Fiona Apple at The Boathouse in Norfolk, Virginia during the Tidal tour.