i'm fixing to fire the tiny alchemists running amuck in my heart valves


art by alyssa doust


a long chapter of my life just ended. there are so many streaking chapters, none definitive, all bungled up bumping into each other, sharing pages and words and homes and socks and dates and beers. but a long chapter of mine just ended. and here i am, at a new one, new blank pages, same old pen, same me.

but how true is this? with each word i etch into existence, my heart’s chemistry changes just a little bit, just one more molecule gets rearranged, one tiny alchemist spills a test tube and it shatters, explodes in a valve in my heart. a mini nuclear fission. and i’m constantly writing—word after word after page after page after chapter after chapter after book. the ailments of being a writer? the ailments of being an idealist? an individualist? an idiot? unique? ignorant? normal?

whatever i am, it’s constantly metamorphizing as each of the millions of tiny alchemists fumble yet another test tube, tripping over turtle-slow clumsy clown feet, stupidstupidstupid. i’d fire the lot of them if i could, except the thing is, they’re fixing to go on strike, seize the shrapnel before it implodes, push the pin back in. these tiny alchemists, you see, they’re clever; how do you think they got into alchemy? how do you think they got so tiny? well, i’ll tell you how: a keen control over the four elements, a deep knowledge of the periodic table, and an overwhelming lack of coordination. one slip-up and—poof! they’re doused, and less than several centimeters in stature, and residing in my heart valves...

i wish i had some control over this mirage of madness, but i’m just a mere man, nearly a meerkat, poking my head up from my bunker to see what’s all the clatter, as men attempt to play gods and tiny alchemists burn my body down and fuck up its composition and i write an infinitude of infinitesimal words to try and change who i am and the whole entire blank-faced world sits there expressionless, unamused, waiting for nothing, nothing once again. but maybe, just maybe, this nothing is magic, the very alchemy which the tiny alchemists harness in their cracked test tubes, the wonder floating through the passing clouds on picture-perfect may days. maybe it’s the nothing that makes this all worth it.

i’ll have to ask the tiny alchemists once they decide to get off strike.


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