Remember when you wrote that poem? On the first line you levered two ideas in five words.
On the second line you decided it was a holiday. By the third line you sold your ego to the
universe. But the fourth line had you phoning for travel insurance. You broke on the stanza
and made a love letter by gluing cardboard shapes together.

You were open as a country gate to start again. The fifth line went for seventeen pages. You
decided this was free verse. The sixth line took a year and you celebrated with a cake. The
next two lines came out together. Paired and twisted. You worked so hard to make them not
rhyme. The rhymes defied all phonics and stuck to the blank spots. You broke on the stanza
and had three children and four jobs.

Did it need four-line stanzas in the first place? The ninth line was your finest work. There
was no answer in the tenth. The eleventh line was a naked lie. The twelfth was an infection.
The thirteenth saw the welt spread. At fourteen lines it split open. Cloudy liquor-puris
blotted the page. You broke on the stanza and sent a stern email to the council.

You were only fourteen and so damn lonely. You wrote to the shadow behind the picture
frame. You gave up on the seventeenth line. The manuscript had grown too fat to lift. All
authority borrowed from immortality had expired. You broke before the stanza and cooked a
familiar meal. You sat with your favourite drug, sleepy on the patio at six, watching the long
night roll in off the ocean.



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Alan Frye writes poetry, prose fiction, and journalism and his work has been featured in a diverse range of publications. He was an inaugural editor of the UWA creative writing journal, Trove, and a prose editor for the American web journal, Unlikely Stories.

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