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"Sermon" by Robert Hodgell

I’ve completely lost confidence in my ability to say or write anything of any worth or consequence. Anytime I make a certain claim, I start hating the sound of my own voice. I’m tired of talking and I’m tired of being right.

There are so many words.

I feel like anything worth saying has already been said. I only want to make it more beautiful. Somehow.

I feel so pretentious. A big talking megaphone-head, words coming out all distorted; a boisterous monotone rant wanting every ear and every eye looking to me. A gigantic gaping blackhole of a person; some kind of pre-Copernican earth, as if I didn’t get the memo that no one’s listening.

It was poetry class, senior year, that did me in. Before that class, I thought I had something. I thought I was something. That’s when I began to doubt. That’s when I stopped writing poetry. In poetry class. I couldn’t rhyme anymore. I had no messages to convey or causes to fight for. I was left to float out on the open sea. No water or land in sight. Tossed from one current to the next. The songs stills came. The melodies still formed in my head. But I had no words to put to them. I could only reach back into my notebooks, hoping to match old words to new tunes; words written when I still believed. Believed that what I said mattered. There are so many songs, harmonies, melodies, and progressions without a textual home.

The words of the Teacher had become real to me. There was truly nothing new. The confidence I once possessed in my voice was gone. I had nothing left to say. I knew if I were to speak my words would either fall to the floor, weighed down with pretension, carried to the bottom of the ocean of self-importance, left to be covered over with soot and coral, reclaimed by the surge of life. Or they would float off into the sky, up into the atmosphere; so light not even gravity could hold them down; ungraspable, they would forever drift out of the solar system, the galaxy, the universe itself. Either way, my words were sentenced to a most horrifying fate: that of never being heard.

My only hope was that I would one day find a story worth telling, and somehow tell it well.

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