Paying With Your Own Skin
I mean in the same way that people who keep drinking and drugging, usually die between 40 and 50, because the body can’t take it.1 But I also think when you’re young, you can be really productive for a while with enormous amounts of chemicals and stuff being thrown into your system, because you’re strong. But it’s sort of like by 33 I started to turn the corner and just realized that no, I was starting to write — because I really felt like I would wake up in the morning after doing something horrible last night, and I would sort of chuckle and I would have sort of a great hangover, and I would sort of find out from somebody what I did. And all of it, as I pulled myself out of that, it would very often produce a poem. There was this revelatory quality to destruction.
And then it really changes at a certain point and people say this, whether they’re poets or not, but it’s sort of like you just crossed a line, and suddenly it’s like I know what I did last night and even though I wrote a poem and even though this is a good poem, the exchange was not worth it, because you realize you’re paying with your own skin and you’re paying with your own mortality, and so it’s not really a good deal anymore.