Jason Lawrence Bell
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07-30-20                        PUSH ARROW TO BEGIN AUDIO

Davis took his coat off and careful hung it on the back of the door. He has been avoiding this moment for months, and after ignoring one deadline after another, he has exhausted his last reprieve. If he doesn’t complete this work, Davis will lose the life time recognition he has been pursuing since he began writing poetry. The International Institute of Prose has selected Davis and his body of work for High Honors as the newest addition to their list of Poets of Distinction. Only the best-of-the-best are on that list. Davis has dreamed of being added to the list, and he knows what he must do to accomplish his dream. He must complete his autobiography and submitted one new original poem to be read at his induction.

The autobiography was an unusual request by the nominating committee, but Davis was an unusual candidate. Davis has spent his entire career as a recluse. He prides privacy over everything and never allows personal information to reach the public. Davis is so private that there are few photos of him available. The clearest photo was when he was 23 years old. Now he is 72. Davis experienced the committee as forcing him to expose his private life and legally fought the demand, however, he lost in court. If he wants the award, he must satisfy their requirements.

Davis stands in his back-storage area looking at stacks of boxes that contain this life history. A history that Davis has kept hidden-away even from himself. He never enters the storage room except to add boxes. Boxes of people and places and relationships that he hides away never to be thought of again. This room holds the memories of his past, like old snake skins that he has peeled off and stuff away. And Davis is nervous and afraid of what he may find. The autobiography must reveal significant people in his life. People who inspired, supported, and strongly influenced him were needed.

Davis notices the shelf with multiple photo albums. There were four albums with one word in large letters on the covers. ‘Jolts’. Davis knew immediately what jolts were. The he saw on the cover of the first photo album the word ‘lure’, and then a poem followed. The poem was a beautiful display of early love. Someone proclaiming deep infatuation and overwhelming feelings of admiration. Davis knew the poem was the ‘lure’. His tool, his manipulation.

Davis opened the first album and there were pages and pages of Polaroids. In every picture was a couple. Happy smiling couples who seemed comfortably in love. Accept Davis was the male in every photo. These were all women he was once partners with. There were 4 full albums of couples’ pictures.

Davis’s first thought was ‘here sets the inspiration for years of poetic excellence.’ Davis knew that these photos represent his ‘system’. The methods he developed early in his career to keep himself inspired and his work ‘jolted’ by depths of emotion. He decided that in ordered to have fresh creative energy he needed consistent new shocks of emotions. Emotions that provide floods of feelings to inspire him towards creative excellence.

On the first page of the first album was the photo of Madeleine. Davis knew she was the first and the example that others would follow. She was his first love. Davis tears up as he recalls his time with Madeleine. Davis was floundering as an amateur poet, and Madeleine was his biggest supporter and source of encouragement. Then in a moment of pure stupidity, Davis had a brief affair with Madeleines sister. Madeleine found out and their relationship ended in shame and disgust. Madeleine would not forgive and left for good. Davis went into an avalanche of pain and dropped out from his friends. He stayed alone and suffered at the loss of his first love. Eventually Davis also found some relief in writing. He dumped in detail his shame, his desperation, his loss.

With time Davis started feeling normal, and he showed the reams of poems to a publisher. The publisher was startled by the poems. One poem after the other, lay bare full of jagged words with sharp edges and images vivid with deep meaning. His first book of poems came directly from those reams.

Davis was slow to get into another relationship. The memory of his recovery over Madeleine was still fresh and tender. Then one evening at a coffee shop he met Sally. They started meeting for coffee regularly. Davis was becoming attracted, but his avoidance of more pain made him shy. One evening Sally asked to see his poems. Davis sorted thru his work looking for something to show Sally. He found a poem he wrote for Madeleine early in their relationship. He showed the poem to Sally. Davis lied and said he wrote it for her. Sally read he it and teared up. That evening Sally took Davis home and made love to him. Sally was infatuated and before long they were living together and proclaiming their love for each other. But soon Davis’s eyes started to wander and he had an affair with Sally’s friend. Sally exploded and Davis was back living alone suffering another lost love. However, poems spewed out on stacks of paper. Soon Davis had a new book and critical acclaim.

Davis had another success under his belt, but more significant he had found a system. He realized that he wrote depth through pain. Pain dragged him to a place of creative abundance. He found his inspiration thru emotional pain. Madeleine’s poem became the ‘lure’ he used to create loving eyes in women he allowed himself to cherish. Davis became an expert in falling in love. Once he found an attractive lady that moved him, he offered up the ‘lure’. He even began putting their names within the poem to personalize it. The poem never failed. And the women multiplied and Davis’s body of work expanded and the photo books enlarged.

Davis pulled out all the photo books and scanned the pictures. These were his ‘jolts’. All those happy faces, destined for destruction, setup to suffer. With all them displayed in front of him, Davis was unable to avoid it. This was his grave yard. The graves of relationships that he promised heaven and he delivered hell. All to satisfy his dream of being famous and admired. He discarded them like used tissue.

Their beautiful faces began haunting him. Smiling at him with eyes of love that would not release. Deep levels of shame chocked Davis, his heart pounded with self-hatred. The entirety of his selfish damage was exposed and overwhelming. Davis was crippled by stabbing bursts of pain. This pain he was not familiar with. His instincts were to grab a pen and write. So he wrote. He wrote thru out the day and evening and for two days more. Sitting cross legged on the storage room floor, he would briefly stop for food breaks but instantly return to writing.

Eventually Davis emerged from storage room. Still disheveled and stinky from days of work, Davis delivers his autobiography and poem to the International Institute of Prose. He then leaves and refuses anymore contact. Davis has not been seen publicly since. The Institute accepted Davis autobiography and poem and both were published to mixed reviews. Some critics called it the works of a sociopath that would mame his mother for a poem. Others labeled it profound honesty through confession. The autobiography was titled ‘My System, My Deceptions.’ And the poem was simply titled, ‘Regrets’. Peace**