rough red patches

Photo taken through store window with bars crisscrossing over it of a large red pocket knife on a stand with several blades and pieces coming out of it. The store contains many other miscellaneous items and boxes on tables and shelves. There is also an apartment building reflecting off of the glass window in blue light.

rough red patches on our hands
irritated dry skin
signs of pandemic wear on the body
doesn’t matter how much you moisturize
clean your hands clean your hands
clean your hands
wash them until they crack and bleed
stay healthy stay safe
while we run out of tests run out of vaccines
run out of doctors run out of time
while you run and slip on the sidewalk
fifteen feet from home
fifteen minutes after curfew
slip on the ice
land underground
close your curtains tight
not allowed to go outside
not allowed to be outside
not allowed to look outside
stay safe safe safe

I’ve Never Allowed Myself to Only Be a Poet Because I’ve Always Felt That Wasn’t Enough

Photo shot from above of a pile of cigarette butts in a can filled with snow that is sitting on the ground in dirty snow.

I wonder if there’s a difference between a poet and a writer.
They speak of the poet’s heart, but what do they mean?
There are times when prose feels so stilted to me,
When I crave the fluidity of line breaks,
The freedom to not be understood fully,
The convention to break convention,
The magic of diving underwater
To retrieve a poem from within the weeds,
Rather than sitting at a desk,
Keyboard at the ready.

I’ve never allowed myself to only be a poet
Because I’ve always felt that wasn’t enough,
But I am starting to wonder if I’ve been wrong.

I Must Write

Photo taken through a store window of an old toilet surrounded by a bunch of stuff, such as a mini toilet, pipes and parts, a faucet, a pair of glasses, a pipe wrench, a rotary telephone, and more. There is a wooden box at the back of the toilet with the top half of a toy Santa sticking out of it. Apartment buildings are reflected on the top right part of the window in blue light.

I moisturize, prepare my tea.
I turn on my music, put my phone on a box of salt.
I send my cryptic messages about the moon and rust.
I change into clean clothes, remember I have laundry to do.
I allow a song to play through in its entirety.
I open my notebook, realize my lips are chapped.
I get up and go to the bathroom.
I check my phone again even though I know better.
I pause over my desk, lost for a moment.
The blank page is daunting,
But I cannot avoid it any longer.
I am faced with what I have to do.
With every distraction but my mind removed,
I must write.

S-Hooks on the Baker’s Rack

Photo of s-hooks hanging from a metal bar shot from the side and moving away from the camera at an angle to the left. There is a small metal strainer hanging from a hook on the far end. Behind everything, there is a beige wall.

You hang s-hooks on the baker’s rack
One after the other, quick quick,
Before running out the door
With another bag packed.
I look at the hooks rocking in place
And want to see them as a sign that you’ll stay,
But of course, the message I know is coming
Arrives on my phone a few days later.
You’re moving out.
Once again, I’ll have to look for someone else.
The baker’s rack and its rocking s-hooks
Will be going with you.

Maybe You’re Not Special

Photo of socks with various stripy patterns on two feet standing on a hardwood floor, shot from above. Red filter over image. White text in the centre reads: "Maybe it's okay to be a regular person." Handle @sage_pantony in white in bottom right corner.

Maybe it’s okay to be a regular person.

Maybe you don’t have to be special, talented, unique, different, or all that interesting.

Maybe you’re not one of those people they’ll tell stories about. Maybe no one will make a movie about your life.

Maybe you’re an average Joe, just some guy out here trying to get by.

Maybe you don’t have to prove anything about yourself to be valuable.

Most of us are regular, average people who aren’t going to do anything outstanding with our lives, and that’s fine.

We’re fed all of these stories about outstanding people, and sure, these people deserve to have their stories told. They can be noteworthy, interesting, and inspiring. Their lives make for good stories! I wonder, however, if this leads many of us to develop a complex where we believe we have to be special. I think most of us regard ourselves as unique and different. Ours is the only consciousness we experience. This can give us the impression that we’re special because we experience ourselves in a special way. But we wouldn’t have the concept of average if most of us weren’t average. We may be under the impression that we’re different or destined for greatness, but does the rest of the world agree? Likely not.

I understand why we celebrate outstanding people. I understand why we’re fascinated by the geniuses, the prodigies, and the gifted. I do worry, however, that our fixation on these folks can lead us to believe that we have to be one of them to matter.

I’m almost thirty. If I were a genius or prodigy, I’d probably know by now. I have about average intelligence, talent, and skills. I’m probably not going to make a huge impact or change the world. My impact will likely remain small, mainly affecting the people in my life, but that’s important too. I still matter. My life is still valuable.

Also, being an outstanding person looks fucking exhausting, while being average is pretty comfortable. I don’t have to prove anything. I don’t have to put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. I’m just a regular guy who’s trying to survive and get some enjoyment out of life. I think I can live with that. I think that’s all most of us need.