The Muse does not give a fuck about
your personal safety. If you let her drive
she will always have one wheel spinning
over the abyss, or you’ll cling
screaming to your seat while she plays
chicken with editors and critics.
She will feed you on false hope
and cheap chocolate and dusty peanuts
at the bottom of the bowl in some bar
where everyone looks vaguely stunned
or disgruntled. Fights start. Dreamers
are always most passionate about the meaningless.
She will let you swing over deep rivers
on frayed ropes, and date sexy but inappropriate
models of any gender, or of none. Sometimes
she will let you sleep alone, but only if it hurts—
the Muse knows you are all about wanting
what you cannot have. Sticky fingers hold that pen
tight, and tears make a lens through which you see
a blurred, fragmented vision of art
(but not the oncoming traffic,
which in a moment will blind you, crush you).
You knew this, even before
she sat down at your table and smiled at you
with perfect teeth just a little too sharp for comfort.
You write your moth-words, feathery strokes
as you circle her light, awaiting the burn, awaiting
THE END as a spastic synaptic flare, an image seared
for a moment on the retina of the world. No,
the Muse does not give a fuck for your well-being,
which is why you love her, almost,
as she cuts off your wings and presses them
to her cheekbones, a memorial to your vanity.
Shy and nocturnal, Jennifer Crow has rarely been photographed in the wild, but it’s rumored that she lives near a waterfall in western New York. You can find her poetry on several websites and in various print magazines including Asimov’s Science Fiction, Uncanny Magazine, and Mythic Delirium. She’s always happy to connect with readers on her Facebook author page or on twitter @writerjencrow
Author of “The Muse Does Not Give A Fuck…”
1) What inspired you to write this poem?
I was talking with my friend Virginia about the old ideas about muses, and how ours seem to be more about tough love—or no love at all—than airy dreams of inspiration. I think the title of the poem says it all. And I had to dedicate it to Virginia because she was there at the beginning, and has always been a voice of encouragement for my poetry.
2) To give other writers hope, would you mind sharing with us how many edits and/or submissions this poem has been through?
I sent out the poem a time or two, but I didn’t have enough faith in it to keep trying, and for about a year it sat in the metaphorical trunk on my hard drive with the rest of the poems I’d been working on. When I looked at it again early this year, I realized how much I loved it, and how much it captured the sometimes conflicted feelings I have about creating. I reworked the ending and sent it out, where it found a good home with Apparition Lit!
3) Recommend something to us! This could be a book, a short story, a video game, a project you’ve heard about, something you’re working on, etc. Anything that has you excited and that you want people to know about.
I’m trying to do more small-press reading this year, especially poetry. Recently I read Sara Tantlinger’s The Devil’s Dreamland, which is her collection of poems about the serial killer H. H. Holmes (I’d also recommend Devil in the White City by Erik Larson for background on that, and as an excellent read in its own right). And Christina Sng’s A Collection of Nightmares is a fascinating exploration of family and the things that scare us—and the way those two elements intersect—in verse.