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Unsolicited Advice, Josh Schlacter

Updated: Oct 20, 2019

If you think you are transparent, remember every verse that is not there, every memory you starved to a grain of sand just to feed the glass. If you think you have stopped blaming anyone, go back to second grade. Taste all the words still held back in your throat for fear they might hurt someone. You don’t have to be afraid to call it the worst year of your life anymore. When the ice cracks under your feet, giving rise to what you fossilized, you will discover your relationship with your father, a dinosaur unearthed, a past you cannot outrun. If all those shipwrecks you tried to sink are eventually going to make their way to shore, I don’t want you to be an island when they arrive.

If the body has a history, let every historian examine yours. Have them dissect your trauma into time periods, taking into consideration all the environments it grew into and through. In the end it will remain a mystery, how the body sustains itself for more than a decade and still keeps fighting. Don’t sleep. If you have recurring dreams of recovery on an island or in a forest, they are not real. They can become addictive. I know too well what it is like to listen to the same song every time after every time after every time you relapse. It is scary that I can name my childhood in a playlist. If your sister starts singing too, don’t press pause, don’t tell her she’s off pitch.

If the memory of Little League resurfaces, it is a motif. The story will not let you go unless you do. When you were six years old, you watched Coach teach boys to sexualize as they swung baseball bats. Right then, you decided if this was boyhood you’d always be a spectator to the game. But now you are stepping up to the plate to say this is not the way the game is supposed to go. If you are still searching for a definition of masculinity you can wear comfortably, that’s okay, I am too. If words really do manifest in reality, we are all prophets. I want to reclaim this love letter to you as God’s messages in the snow.

One day, you will find dependability in expendability, which is to say to the motel room heart, your pain is just a visitor, something to keep the no vacancy sign lit. You are just a visitor, but your neon could rip through someone else’s darkness. Dear seven year old me: I have finally figured out who I am. It happens we are singers of the heart. It happens we all are.


Found in Volume XV (2016-2017)

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