The Scars Are So Old And Ain't Nobody Home


A 1990s letter from me.

The dog of nostalgia bites hard and deep on a Sunday morning and the romantic notion of writing letters sloshes around the attic of my mind between the cerebral cobwebs. I will pick up that hotel pen from the Flamingo in Las Vegas or the Holiday Inn in Crystal City, grab a sheet of paper, sit at my desk and write a letter like I used to do in the eighties and nineties. But to whom? Well, no one really and I will not even bother writing that letter unsent or licking the envelope shut. Letters died and it is a shame, yet nonetheless they have gone to meet the great inkpot in the sky.


The idea of writing these letters to no one was spawned by my reading the often witty, always dramatic and sometimes wicked letters of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud. I wrote my letters in the eighties to my French penpal in Marseilles as a boy, friends, enemies and former lovers in the nineties and that is where it ended. Technology more advanced than the pen and the postal service came along and I typed out electronic letters via email. 


Nostalgia would try to convince me that I could recapture the spirit of times past and maybe even the faintest trace of my youth with ink and paper. They may claim to have a Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine too, but bathe in it all you want and you will not get any younger, the only thing you might achieve is a criminal record or a strange infection in a bad place – possibly both. It is a dastardly trick that nostalgia; it is as healthy as injecting a gallon of bacon grease directly into your veins and running the Peachtree Road Race high on cocaine in high heels. The reality is that wrinkles formed at the corners of my eyes like those cerebral cobwebs and the promise of paper cuts to the tongue will wisen me up after the second cup of coffee. Nobody is home at the other end of the mailbox and if they are, they are expecting their next shipment of toilet paper from Amazon. Misty memories will have to be satisfied listening to Barry Manilow on Youtube. Even now, even now...


I write about the past, miss some of it, value much of it but I do not live there. My letter writing friends are dead or gone and my desire to chew on a pen and hope that my handwriting is not indecipherable is a passing motorcycle in the fast lane. The dog of nostalgia must be leashed after you feed it or it will devour your present and future.


Johnny Thunders gives the best advice and no, his 1991 death in New Orleans was not a mystery.

You Can't Put Your Arm Around A Memory