Nothing is everything. Nothing is the burden weighing heavy on your shoulders, the one you always shake off. It’s the last drop of the juice box when you throw it away. Nothing is the three pages you’ve written and not edited, the off-key melody you just created for that song you’ve been working on. It’s the mixture of colors splattered perfectly onto your easel.

Nothing is the lie you tell when you’re doing something suspicious, the secrets you hide from everyone but yourself. Nothing is the air we breathe, the force of gravity that sets us in place upon the earth, the molecules that are naked to the human eye. Effortlessness. It’s the surprise you’re hiding from a loved one, the gift you went out of your way to buy, the favor you did for someone who thanks you unconditionally.

Nothing is what the dog licks off your plate, what you feed him under the table. It’s what you said to your mother when she caught you acting up, what you tell your father when he asks what you’re getting yourself into. Nothing is what you had in your wallet when the homeless man asked you for change, what you see when you walk past him.

It’s what you feel when you close your eyes. Nothing is how much you’ve had to drink when you get pulled over by the police, what you were doing wrong in the first place. It’s what you saw in your rear view mirror, what you saw happen when you caught your wife cheating. Nothing is what you may feel you are sometimes. It’s what you think of when you lay down at night to go to sleep. It’s everything.

Nothing is always something.

Open Wounds

In an Action Writing Workshop, the first time Annie Lanzillotto had me write spiral-style, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t really understand what it meant to start from the outside of a scene, and make my way in, or vice versa. I just thought and ran with it. This is what I produced on that magical yellow swirl:

Julie holds my hand
“Pain is beauty,” the man says
The chair is cold
11 years old
“Pick which studs you like.”

Cotton ball beneath my ear
burning, yearning
through my flesh

Where’s my mother?
She wouldn’t take me
The second needle