the study of modern language

As a writer, it has become harder to find
Inspiration, listening in the coffee shops.
Our muses have disappeared
Or been demoted
Or perhaps had their tongues
Replaced with

“He was like, you know, it felt like, and it was interesting too, but (mumble) and dadadadada, but if we want to have children, but just like, more discussion of, I don’t know, it was all very interesting, and good, you know, and yeah. Yeah. We just do whatever. It’s not like we have to (mumble) and (mumble), but it’s like we start walking in a direction and, but – you know what I mean? And he and I had that same discussion today, you know. And it’s good. And we talked about if people think, you know, it’s – (mumble) – and I said they, you know, ask me the same thing. But there’s definitely a question, interest, but I couldn’t tell, because, I, like, didn’t want to push, or if he wasn’t, you know, but then he, you know what I’m saying? I couldn’t read – but I couldn’t tell. If I was – I don’t have a sense of where and how, so that part was like – you know. Huh. So… I kind of wanted to, like, put it out there, and then let someone else do that, and that’s lovely, you know, that’s cool, but ultimately that’s what you’re waiting for, but that’s how it works, right? Guys just sitting around not pursuing, just because of whatever, you know what I mean, like it’s been a year, so they said, I mean, you know, it’s been a year and some change since, like, you know, just do what you want, but they were married for eleven. So, you know.”*

This is what we’re working with.
It’s a wonder anything gets written at all.

*Coffee shop, Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.
28 January 2012, approx. 5pm.
Transcribed, (almost) word for word.


4 thoughts on “the study of modern language

  1. This brought to m ind a Jon Stark poem:

    We sat, facing each other
    the usual between us, plates with crumbs
    half empty cups, the noise of every other
    conversation, that stupid door
    opening, closing, opening
    your mouth staying shut
    It’s better this way, a public display
    of private emotion
    the pressure of embarassment
    helping to push tears back inside
    coffee as dark and cold as the future
    spill out some more sugar
    I hate when it’s bitter
    Your eyes keep shouting
    while your voice gets softer
    I don’t want to lean in any closer
    we might touch
    That’s no way to start a separation

    J. Stark

    • Thanks so much for this poetry response, Rachel. I think I recognize it – is it printed and hanging in your bakery? I should add that I was reading some Billy Collins poetry (my favorite!) just before I began listening to the conversation behind me, so his work somewhat influenced the beginning and the end of this post.

  2. Rachel’s poem reminded me of a story a friend told me, hoping I’d write it as a play someday.

    She and her boyfriend broke up at a Perkins, at a table next to the pie carousel. They kept having to stop their conversation when people came over to ogle the desserts.

    I know whenever I have a conversation in public, I’m always aware there are strangers’ ears around. It’s not apropos of Michelle’s original post. Now I want pie.

    • Oh, believe me, I’m always aware that people might be listening. I’ve both given and received enough assignments in theatre and writing classes to know that anything said in public is fair game to be turned into art. :)

      Hope you got some good pie. And thanks for commenting!

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