There is a Starbucks Coffee
on the corner of 6th and Congress, in Austin, Texas.
There used to be a bench (on the 6th side —
maybe it is still there)
an eight-minute walk from the Colorado River,
flowing beneath a bat colony
whose residents love to show off
in the evenings.
I was a college dropout
with a sewing kit in my chest pocket,
threading needles through a makeshift diary
bounded by layers of duct tape (like my favorite wallet) and
housing graph paper
so that I could keep my words in line.
Maybe that’s why I fell in love with my wife?
She wrote in journals with blank pages.
She didn’t need guides to keep her sentences straight —
little boxes to keep her character acceptable.
She wasn’t afraid of her first thought
coming out as a scribble. (Still isn’t.)
She wasn’t afraid of herself.
Anyway, I remember meeting a man there —
on the bench outside of Starbucks Coffee —
next to the statue of Randy Rodman’s Sixth String Guitar.
He wanted a cigarette and a drive to Waco, and
I thought — romantic about the transient
as a pupil of Donald Miller’s sheet music and sexy carrots
(praise be my mother’s introduction to
jazz and pipe tobacco and Christian cuss words) —
why not drive through painted deserts today?
We met that afternoon,
left from a Chevron at the southeast corner
of the northbound onramp fronting 35.
He rolled a joint and I (aloof to the terpenes
blending into the smell of rain looming outside)
told him about my night spent in a parking lot
not ten minutes from the capitol,
next to the hookah bar
I took my friend to
two days after her internship ended at Acquire The Fire
(and boy did she acquire it there) and how —
for some reason I still don’t know —
the police didn’t ask me to leave after knocking
on my car window and
shining their flashlights
into my bedroom above the spare.
I told him about street poetry and
how a drunk man gave me money to stop doing it, and
in between hits he said, “Now that’s what I call success,"
and dozed off.
When the rain became hail, he woke and
told me about migration and keeping warm.
How — if anybody asked (and they had been), or
if any cops came knocking on the door
like that again —
he has a mother and brothers up north
(anybody who might do his will),
and that's where he's going,
making family along the way.
"Thanks for the ride, and
the company, and a place to rest my head.
Nests like these are hard to come by."
He left his roach inside my den,
and I wrote about it that night,
back in bed (a real one,
not my pillow above the wheel well),
and was careful to stay inside of the lines,
cautious about how much to reveal
(but I remember it being fun to
tip my toes up to the edge).
At the beginning of February, Austin Kleon created a 30 Day "Practice and Suck Less" Challenge. I didn't start when he did, but I've been using the prompt to write more quickly and more consistently.
Anyway, we're a few days into the wilderness and this morning, my writing prompt for the practice was Scott and Justin's May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord's Prayer. As some combination of both my Lenten journey and a personal devotion to sucking less, this is what I came up with, based upon the pictured prayer / visual meditation above.