The Way of Escape

You find yourself
in a windowless room —
the walls crumbling plaster, gray.

(I know this because I am there too).

You don’t know how long you’ve been there, but you know it’s been a long time, because there’s a hunger in the back of your eyes:  for color, light — carmine, sun-yellow, cobalt.

Your body is stiff, hunched, the bones nearly bent. The ceiling is too low for you to stand, the walls too close for you to lie straight.

Even your breath feels bound.

But there’s a sledgehammer —  (do you see it?) — maybe it looks like a paintbrush, or a pen. Maybe the handle is wrapped in ribbons, or lace. Maybe it takes the form of a guitar, a garden spade — It could look like anything.

You already know.

Take it in your hands. (The art is the way out.)

Lift it — feel the counterbalance of its heavy head, its long handle.

You do not have to be
You do not have to be
You do not have to be
an expert.

You just have to be desperate. Which — look around — you are.

Gray bare walls,
(The art is the way out)
Gray lightless ceiling,
(Lift it now, 
pull back your arms)
That thirst in your throat
(Lift it),
That hunger,
oh, God —

The art is the way out.




  1. You are such an artist. I’m curious. Tell me about your process for writing this. Is it a flash of inspiration? Does it come to you at once or do you toil for days? BTW, you got a shout-out on my post this morning.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Joseph, both for the kind words and the shout-out. 🙂 I’m compketely flattered.

      As for process, I scribbled this down in my journal a few months ago. I’m scribbling things all the time, all throughout the day, I guess because I suspect that almost all our moments contain little flashes of inspiration, that our minds are subconciously producing interesting material every minute… I just try to grab a few fistfuls as it rushes past.

      I tinkered with this briefly as I was typing it up (I’m not a poet, so line breaks are a challenge). Generally though, nothing you see here gets a very heavy hand in the editing department. I like to call myself a recovered perfectionist, & one of my chief reasons for starting a blog was to give myself the freedom to share work that’s a little unpolished, or perhaps still in progress. Mistake-making is good for me. 🙂

      Thank you, sincerely, for reading! I always love hearing your voice here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s interesting. I suppose we do get inspirations floating by. I like the idea of grabbing fistfuls when we can. My method is, well, methodical. I have to force the work. I guess I rely on that subconscious inspiration to surface when I need. Thanks, Ashley.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I like methodical artists — some of my favorites would probably describe themselves that way. 🙂 I wonder if method isn’t a form of scaffolding … A way of giving the more ephemeral things good solid bones. Have you heard that old quote from Faulkner — “I only write when I feel the inspiration. Fortunately, inspiration strikes at ten o’clock every day” ? It always makes me smile. 😉

          What’s *your* method? I know we’re all wired a little differently, but you’re so right: it’s fun to hear about another person’s process.


          1. Love the Faulkner quote. That essentially sums up my method. When I’m in novel writing mode, I write every day, whether I feel like it or not. I’m starting another one in a month or so and I’m going to try to vary my approach. I intend to schedule longer periods of more intense writing. Hours at a time. But the key is discipline. For me, anyway.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I love that, Joseph (and congratulations on starting a new project — I always love that champagne-bubbles new-love feeling that comes with the beginning). When my work schedule was lighter, I used to write for four hours at a stretch, first thing in the morning. I did my best and most interesting work that way, and wish I had time to do it again. Sometimes the first three hours I’d produce nothing worth seeing, but I always viewed it as runway-building. By the fourth hour, something big and heavy always managed to lift right off the ground. Which is the best feeling. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s