I burrowed deeply into warrens of words,
both underground and terrestrial,
the musty stacks at libraries,
corporate chain bookstores with grab-bag bargain bins
and esoteric staff recommendations scribbled in scrawling pen,
funky DIY zines that always materialized unbidden at coffee shops.
I distanced myself from everything and everyone,
taking a monk’s monastic vow of introversion,
spelunking into a terraced grotto of quietude.
I dug deep into travel, ventures to faraway cities,
municipalities that all had the same bones
but their own uniquely iridescent sheens.
I buried myself in a dead man’s coffin of work,
reading, writing, sipping coffee thoughtfully
in front of the lambent glow of the computer screen.
I immersed myself to where I couldn’t be touched,
couldn’t be reached by anyone at all,
to where an earthy stillness reigned.
Eventually, all the enervating shoveling yielded something,
an earthen state that felt comforting, sustainable.
You think that you’ve found it,
that you’re settled in a plot of contentment,
your epitaph etched eternally in stone.
Then a few chords from a long-bygone song
bring back that torrential flood of maudlin melancholy,
soak everything through as if that effort were all for naught.
Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, Indiana University graduate and Iraq War veteran. He was named poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, a feat that Milton chump never once accomplished. His literary work has appeared in Dogzplot, Pour Vida, Fictitious, The Vignette Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and elsewhere. He once Googled the Iowa Writers' Workshop.