The Beast and the Muse

Brit Graham

Complacency, she’s a tricky beast. She sneaks. She is like the speckled frog plopped into the dark teakettle set to boil. She lies and she waits, she lulls you into an uncertain sense of security. She makes you feel good. She is my enemy to productivity. We don’t realize how comfortable we become sitting on our overstuffed purple couches, fuzzy Jack-Skellington-socked feet propped up on our lime green ottomans with cinnamon spiced tea in our favorite chipped mugs. We hardly feel her quadrupled-jointed fingers hooking themselves around our writing and jerking us left and then down.

I cannot say what, precisely, untethers me from my coma-like stupor. It always seems to accompany travel, like an errant stowaway tucked into the tiniest corner of luggage. There is no other perspective like the type belonging to open sky, cities crippled in her wake. Displacement. The sort shakes the mind’s closet, rattles those dust-riddled thoughts loose.

You see, the muse, she gets bored, tired of the same old hat. She needs to go on a walk-about every now and again. No matter how much I read, or have that feeling in the pit of my gut about something brewing, something maturing, something is going on writing wise that which my conscious is not privy. And then she has to run amok for a few days before she parts those white filmy curtains and says, look here.

It’s like those burbling basaltic hot spots in the pacific. They move, flit along a course, for the most part we are unable to see. A path of destruction, a path of new life. There is always a burst of written work whenever the scenery shifts slantwise. It pours out, not always glistening, not always clear. But the root of something fresh is always buried beneath. The best thing of all, is the consistent change. The ever shifting place, that stays rooted just where it has always been.

My creative thesis consisted of so much nautical imagery, that I started to believe I was destined for the coast. This was the result of a two month stint of South Floridian living. Currently I reside in the landlocked state of South Dakota, where it’s negative ten before the wind chill, the streets are littered with ice and what are attempting to be slush piles, are in fact not slush piles because they’ve not been given the opportunity to slush thoroughly. I fell in love with her in the summer. South Dakota has more lakes and sloughs than one would anticipate, and the sky should be considered a celestial body itself. The stars breed in the sky like rabbits out here, overhead so thick it looks more like salt and pepper than a black abyss pinpricked with careless constellations and light.

More and more I find myself writing in attempts to unearth answers, to widen my perception of a thing deemed impossible to decipher. Scrawling it out on a napkin at the local Irish pub, or etching it along lined pages tucked in the coffee shop across the street, writing enables me to flush out every angle, every shadowed nook and cranny, and it brings about the gift of reflection and time. It slows down the thought process enough so that one can fully observe the layered surroundings, the issues at hand, the people connected to it all. To put it simply, it seems as if suddenly and inconsequentially there is so much to write about.

Living as a hermit in South Dakota, partly due to the cold, mostly due to the gray permeating even one’s good socks, it’s easy to lose a self in one’s self. It’s easy to forget about the rest of the world. And with no less than a cattle prod-like insistence shoving me out my 70s orange door I’ve come to beautiful south Florida. A witness to its glory of crumbling asphalt bleached and cracked gray, and the aged blood-tinged rust that seems to underlie ever metal thing in the area. And I have found a solution to my problem, and perhaps I’ve identified a problem for you, and unearthed just one possible solution.


Photo of poet Brit GrahamFor now Brit Graham traverses the tundra that is South Dakota, while tripping over things while stargazing in the all too brief summer months. She is the crux of an ongoing love affair between the Pacific and Atlantic. She managed to pry an MFA in Poetry from the grasp of Converse College. You can read her poetry things in publications like Devilfish Review, The Night Owl, RealSouth Magazine, and The OWL.