Earlier in 2022
I was reading Sheila Heti’s diaries, 
& sharing them with Lindsay & Lauren,
quoting our favorite snippets
back & forth over gmail lines.

Consider this:
Sheila had taken a decade of diaries,
loaded 500,000 of her words into Excel, of all things,
& ordered them alphabetically.

What’s more, she shared it with the New York Times!

My god, & here I am 
still embarrassed over
G reading my secrets from when I was 22?
Cringing when I found more of my teenage swirls,
notebook after notebook
of utter nonsense, self-absorption,
teenage hurts & thrills,
dying to light a goddamn bonfire
instead of tossing them in my alley dumpster
as I wondered, who was that poor girl & 
god, I hope no one finds out

Finds out 

And yet –

And yet –

Here’s Sheila:

She spoke about the Doors, about how their idea of sex compelled her because it was not the hippie idea in which sex is benign but instead that sex is powerful because sex is death. She spoke on and on about her granddaughter — she monologues a lot, like a man.” 

At 9:33 a.m. on March 11, 2022, I forwarded it to L & L, 
writing, “I almost forgot to send the latest!
and now I am inspired to write a poem entitled SEX IS DEATH”

They didn’t respond to that one,
which is fine. 
I’m kind of always talking about the poems I’m inspired to write.

Like usual, I didn’t,
not then. 

But here I am now.

What I loved about the exercise was not so much that it felt 
like we were all in on a secret
& not even because Sheila’s sentences were interesting 
& deep & shallow & straightforward & complex

(“Not-smart boys are no fun to be around. Note for the future.”)

But the thought of us all reading them separately
& gravitating toward the same, yet different moments:


“I gave him half the lemon loaf I had bought partly for him.
I hate him these days.”


“How does someone shift their axis?”

& as for me,

“I have a knife in my heart, 
and I want them all to die.”


By the time we got to the Os, 
maybe the interest had waned, I couldn’t tell, 
but I still kept forwarding, copying my favorite lines,
like the one where Sheila says she’s started wearing lipstick
because “since cutting my hair,
men haven’t been looking at me on the street,
and I don’t like it.”

A thought similar to one I’d had
where I’d spent a year feeling invisible
once my hair was in a ziploc bag 
& I didn’t know quite who I was without it
& I was ashamed to even think it, so
trust me I didn’t write it down!
What if someone found out!

But here’s Sheila,
not giving a solitary fuck.

All that order 
is another kind of fire 

“Remember, it doesn’t matter what you write about.” – Sheila Heti


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