the chiropractor says my ribs keep popping out and i wonder if that’s from my heart trying to break free, i mean i can’t blame it, sometimes you just gotta jump ship before it sinks out from under you completely, every man for himself you know, and if that’s the case i’d rather break my sternum right open and set my struggling heart free, let it run run run, find a better home than me, let it fly away and stay away cause all i can promise it is pain, that sounds dramatic but ain’t it the truth, i’m no oracle but i can see where this world’s headed and i’m done done done, hand me the oars and i’ll steer for that light on the horizon, it’s probably a mirage but what the hell, we’ve got nothing better to do as we wait for dawn
What was your process for creating this work?
Honestly, I didn't have a "process" so much as I just kind of vomited my emotions all over the page and then edited here and there as needed. I wrote this piece in June of 2018, so there was a lot of darkness in the news to draw on: the rapidly melting Antarctic, dead whales full of garbage, migrant children stolen from their parents and stuffed in cages, and a West Coast on fire. I was also dealing with a lot of pain from some floating ribs that wouldn't stay in place, and thus the first line of this piece was born and the rest followed.
What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?
This piece exemplifies what I like to call "wordvomit," though other folks might call something like this prose poetry (which is probably a much nicer name). But I call it wordvomit specifically because it is just that - an almost stream-of-consciousness onslaught of emotion too lacking in structure for prose or in artfulness for poetry. It's as raw as I can make it while still ensuring (hopefully) that it makes sense to others.
What is the significance of this work to you?
Besides the aforementioned news topics that were on my mind at the time of writing this, this piece also holds significance to me because it includes a metaphor I love to employ: the sinking of the Titanic. At the time I was reading a book called Titanic: A Very Deceiving Night by Tim Maltin. In it he describes how the survivors saw a distant light that seemed to be approaching them and, assuming it was a rescue ship, some lifeboats rowed in its direction. However, the light never moved any closer. He proposed that an atmospheric mirage made the lights of the distant Californian look as though it were coming to their rescue when in fact it was stationary. I wondered, would it have been better or worse to know that light wasn't salvation? Did a spark of hope keep some people alive, or did the creeping disappointment crush their spirits? We're much like those survivors now, stranded in the midst of a global disaster and yearning desperately for rescue. For me, some days hope is the only thing I have to which to cling; other days, it's just too painful to touch.
Elyssa Tappero is a queer ace lesbian and pagan witch who writes fragments of prose and poetry about mental illness, the gods, the agony of writing, and how it feels to be alive for the end of the world (which is pretty not great) in hopes of touching others who might feel the same. You can find more of her work at www.onlyfragments.com and follow her on Twitter at @OnlyFragments.