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If Ever | Poetry

Flower Against Stump: Photography by Shawn Michel de Montaigne

Back in 2011, when I was getting ready to publish

my first full-length novel,

I had bought the bullshit (wholesale, actually)

that I could make a living writing my fiction and poetry.

I was all full of myself and sure of my future.

I thought about what kind of author I wanted to be,

and, more importantly, what kind of person I wanted to be.

What I didn't want to be was what I saw all around me,

especially in the writing community, the indie writer

community in particular: individuals clamoring for fame,

for fortune, for more opportunities to swell their already burdensome egos.

I wanted a roadmap, a guide, a lighthouse, what have you.

You get the idea.

So I wrote the following.

A dozen years have passed.

Remarkably, these words are just as true and meaningful

for me today as they were then,

when I suffered under multiple delusions.

For that reason, I update this poem on occasion, I edit it,

and I hold it dear to my heart even today,

and will likely going forward into the indefinite future.

Unlike the vast majority of authors, indie or not,

I don't write for fame or fortune.

I couldn't care less if you read my work or not.

I refuse to kiss your ass for clicks;

I refuse to sell out to you;

I refuse to beg you;

I refuse to conform.

Here is my declaration of independence.

Deal with it.


If ever they build a statue to me,

spit on it. Deface it.

Because they have not built it for me,

or my works,

or my words,

but to commodify me into the herd,

to assimilate me,

to make me safe.


If ever they assign my words or stories as homework,

take the F instead.

Fail on purpose.

Refuse to participate in class discussions;

refuse to write the assigned research papers.

For homework is how they defang the true Rebels,

how they water them down,

how they corrupt their memories and legacies.


If ever they make me famous, or infamous,

laugh out loud.

For either way what they are paying attention to

is not me, and never was, and never will be.

Let them prattle and glisten and spittle on. Ignore them.


If ever anyone comes forth,

claiming to have known me,

or who claims to know me still,

punch him in the nose.

For those who truly know me need not announce it,

and have no need of fame—or infamy.

Those who truly know me are as obscure and anonymous

as the grass, and want nothing to do with the herd

or its endless grinding machinations.


If ever they put me on some fast-food collector’s glass

(get all five!),

or use my works or words in any way

to enrich themselves,

understand that I never gave them permission to do so.

They are guilty of theft,

and should thus be treated as thieves.

As for those who collect such filthy items,

try to educate them, if you can,

but hold no expectations for success.

For those who know the truth are few—

not because the truth is so hard to achieve,

but because so few want to hear it,

and fewer still want to live it.


If ever their thinkers and philosophers come forth

and proclaim the ideas in my books bunk,

or that the soul does not exist,

or that God does not exist

(however you believe such an entity be),

or that imagination is for children,

or that free will is an illusion,

or that the self does not exist,

or should be crushed (regardless of reason),

or should be co-opted for the “higher good” of whatever

herd they worship and bow to,

fear not, and look deep inside yourself,

in the quiet meadows and valleys within your very real

and self-evident spirit.

The truth is waiting for you there.

And that they can never take away from you, ever.


My stories aren’t written for the masses.

They are written for the very, very few.

If you’re one such soul,

the words here, and my stories, are affirmation, not news;

they are confirmation of the truth inside you,

not opinion;

they are inspiration to carry on,

even though so many, by ignoring you, forgetting you,

betraying you, laughing at you, scheming behind your back,

trying to make you homeless, or by ripping you off,

or by ostracizing you, or by beating you, or raping you,

or scarring you, want you to stop, want you to be silent,

want you to disappear.


Don’t be silent.

Don’t disappear.

Do what they don’t;

do what they haven’t the courage to do:




Refuse to bow down.

Refuse to surrender.

Refuse to be consumed by the Necrolius Anaxagorius

of our world,

the Great Corporate Machine.



From Conversations With God: Volume One


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Photography: Flower Against Stump by Shawn Michel de Montaigne