Beyond Words

I’ve been turning walls into doors

for as long as I can remember,

and mainly to learn how to be both

my own key and keyhole

and let myself out when everybody knew

I was the only one who could.

So, this past week at work I caught myself

generating original writing material

for one of my students in my head,

like the way I learned how to write

imaginatively, by treating every moment

of writer’s block as a door

into the real autobiographical work

I wanted to read,

but then stopped myself.

Why don’t these kids enjoy writing

the way I did when I was their age?

Well, there are a million reasons

for that one, none of which make this

poetry thing I do any more relevant for them,

despite my wishes to the contrary,

and one of them is that I get a kick out of

writing myself out of anything.

I tell my student if I imagine for him

I would be providing for him a disservice,

and that at most I could model how

a creative writer might generate content

with some examples. Does that sound

okay to you? I ask him, and he says sure.

Exactly, I say. I begin rattling off

some possible definitions for sure, like

to be certain, confident in one’s position,

filled with conviction, a kind of deodorant.

Then I ask him when was the last time you

were so sure about something you smelled like

confidence and barely broke a sweat all day?

To which he says you’re weird.

Why thank you for the compliment,

I tell him, then dive back in with an

informal analysis of the word weird with strange,

off the grid, wacky, and beyond words.

Author: Chris Russell

Chris Russell holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Concord, New Hampshire where he follows two paths: a calling as a poet, and an altruistic vocation as an education support professional.