Loneliness When Writing (Freewrite)

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(Editor’s Note: Inspired by a discussion on Twitter, I decided to ask myself a question and write down whatever thoughts came to me. Totally unedited, save for syntax.)

Do I feel lonely when I write?

Well, I guess I would have to first answer why I initially began writing.


Therapy seems like such a cliche answer.
I can’t remember too many times where writing made me feel “better.”
No mood lifted.
I think.
But there are other forms of therapy, right?
I do write so the inspired voices in my head will temporarily leave me be.
But are they bothering me?
Does that imply that inspiration is a nuisance?

No. It can’t be. Without inspiration, my life would be useless.
Or driven by someone else’s whims.

But do I feel lonely while writing?
I do feel alone. That’s certainly not the same.
Is that willful solitude?
Is that bad?
We all need time to ourselves.
But writing does make me feel vulnerable
And sometimes, we need another source of energy to help us cope.
Is that the purpose of my muse?

All these rhetorical questions
And not one real answer.
Maybe answering wasn’t the goal.
Perhaps just being brave enough to question myself is the aim.


Such a simple question that I have done mental circles around.
“Answering” it and other tangential inquiries.
That may or may not pertain to how I see writing.
Again, that all feels cliche.

I mean, I definitely wouldn’t write if I didn’t feel I was good at it.
Honestly, I wouldn’t write if I didn’t think others would think I was good at it.
Acceptance is real, even in therapeutic exercises.

I guess that’s how some cope with loneliness.
I just pick up the pen…


Audio/Visual: FAQ

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See me. Hear me.

I’m on a quest to know the way to the ledge
Wandering In Search, Developing One’s Mental
Over and Under stands, traveling in perfect circles
Searching for…myself
I ask myself questions
Yeah I’m one of those cats, super-introspective
The main one is simple but the one that means the most to me…so I ask it journalistic-ly:

Hi. Johnathan Tillman here. 6 foot Aries with a strong affection for Papaya Juice, born and raised just outside the Chocolate City.
Uhh…Why did I—why did we—choose poetry?
And as a follow-up: Why do we wanna have poems about liberation
You know, writing for freedom, but I still write for free?

The retort…short
We write freely.
About the times when it’s brown eyes pretty as well when it’s uglier than Celie
To give sight & sound to the imagery
So the deaf see it clearly and the blind people hear me

This is visual audio
A motion picture in the audible
Look with your ears and listen with your heart

CLEAR! Feel that beating in your chest?
That’s my vocal cords bellowing to your soul, commandeering your respect
See me. Hear me. The meaning between each breath
Longing for the day when reality and dreams intersect

I still don’t have an answer for that initial thought though
And it’s hard for a man rooted in logic to just act off impulse
But reluctantly I rolled with it.
And let my heart make the choice
But there arises yet another question…that I must ask journalistic-ly:
Johnathan Tillman again. Saturday morning cartoon lover with a mean step-back jumper.
Why did you decide we should do spoken word, even though we still haven’t quite found my own voice?

And I recognize that the point of view often shifts from second to first
But think of it as a poem from The Greatest in reverse
Damn, Mister Ali.
Those two words. That two-pronoun’d phrase without verb.
I know he once landed blows to muscle and bone
But that there, struck a nerve

You’re looking at a man
That once believed I had too many gifts and talents
That I, “knew how to do too much”
It was beyond being humble. It was more like knowing I could sing, and also knowing but shunning the keys, ignoring the B-L-E, minimizing the belief.
Therefore reducing my vocals to a melancholy hum.

I mean, how could I possibly expect people to hear me when
I didn’t bother to listen to what my heart had to say?
How could I want my own light to be seen when
Whenever my soul glowed I shyly looked away?

See me. Hear me.
This is visual audio
A motion picture in the audible
I’m playing Pictionary with your ears and Marco Polo with your eyes
I would call it charades but that word tends to carry a connotation of lies
And I want to personify the truth
But I still struggle with projecting when I’m talking to you…

So when you see me rub my tattoos
Like Steve Francis at the free throw line for two
It’s a subconscious reminder to avoid that self-mute
Speak up Black King. This isn’t some part-time hobby.
Your pen’s mightier than the sword and you, Sun, are shining
This is God’s Gift. Rather God has given
That’s why we’re Johnathan Tillman.
God has given we—one man—a till.
A task with the manipulation of these here words
It’s all in according, and recording, to His will
And we better work, man of Till

So I channel the aura of ancient Pharaohs
Terra Firma Negro
Standing on solid rock, wielding the elements like Captain Planet
Earth, wind and fire like the party’s on in September
Water and heart hoping my thoughts take the shape needed to flow through your ventricles.

Injecting your arteries with jargon and your capillaries with vocabulary
So prose circulates and fills your atria.
Your hearts become jam-packed cardiovascular stadiums
Just so you can get a glimpse into the moment I realized that there’s God within me
And with that inner G, I’m trying to change potential into kinetic
But there’s still one more question:
Yeah. Johnathan, one last time. Egyptian descendant with an affinity for different variations of A-A-B-A rhymes.
Uhh…I don’t think anyone’s said it
But if we don’t let it—let my soul—how can I ever ask others to grant me the passages in their spirits to get it?

The retort…short.
All I have to do is let it.

And stop asking so many questions.

This is visual audio
A motion picture in the audible

See me. Hear me.

Feel me.




This isn’t that “Why do I write?” poem
“What’s my meaning?” purpose-driven life poem
Well, sort of. ‘Cause I already know I’m
Blessed with a talent beyond measure but to stay ahead of the question,
I’m just gonna show you

Got a lot to say
It’s all in the rhyme
So I’ll scribe what I feel and grab a hold of my destiny and take it my way
It’s all in my sign
I’m an Aries, so while those before me are fishing
I ram through life’s door, before the bullshit kicks in
Pen astronomy & astrology
Paragraph celestial bodies & their mythologies
In it to be legendary & have constellations in memory of my thoughts and
Gravitate heads that revolve around knowledge see…

My compass is inverted
Using my left to go write ’til all that’s left is right
A southpaw that wants to reach the northernmost heights of your mind with my verbal
My truth won’t hurt you

It was fitting that I get permanently inked with
“Yonathan” in Hebrew God’s Gift in English
First tat of my first name
With that Let me break
No it’s not some delusional symbol of me thinking I’m a divine present to women
That’s just lame.
But there’s presence of the divine when she and I get to building.

What’s my motivation?

My biggest fear isn’t whether or not yall will like it, or if yall recite it
‘Cause if I wasn’t dope, well hell, I wouldn’t be writing then
I’m most afraid of when I have offspring & somebody stops them
And asks, “What’d your father do?” and they can’t respond to it.

I conceive with the flow so my seeds will know
That if they think, they can do
And there’s no limits to the achievable
And yes I’m that futuristic when I contemplate
The present is a gift. They’ll receive mine post-dated

THAT’S why I’m concentrated, that idea’s got me shackled
Like a c cypha—word to those watching a circle of wordsmiths rappin
I search and scratch in
A mission to find
That one ear, one mind, that one third eye
That will hear Sun rhyme, and uncover their shine
I believe I can change the world, one line at a time.

That’s why…I write.
Any more questions?


25th Letter

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Pardon me…but at some point, I’m going to need to close my eyes
No, it’s not for some pseudo-dramatic poetic effect
And it’s not because I’m extra nervous, all that vanished with the first line
But it’s so I can see…I need to have a face-to-face talk with her

I was thinking to myself: Why me?
Why was she bestowed on me?
Before discovering her frame, I was firmly entrenched in the exactness of mathematics
Never once believing I fell into the mold of artist.

But then it struck
The impulsiveness
The spontaneity
She grabbed me in her gentle clutch
And chose me as her vessel

I’m not asking in hopes of being relieved of her.
Never, ever will I forsake She
But I am down to lose her, for the chance to gain her
Even if all I gain is the respect that she sees in me.

So here I am with pen and pad
As her muse…her autobiographical griot,
The only one with the correct harmonic stroke to stimulate
To please, to satisfy…But…Why?

Close my two to open my third, and there she is…waiting
Like always, patiently…wantonly
So I come right out with it: “Love, why me?
It’s more than just my birth month is The Poet’s Month…
What else can it be?” As I kneel before deity.

She said: “In you, I see…many things.
Your name only scratches the surface of what you’ve inherited from The Most High’s divinity
Johnathan isn’t just your first name, it’s we to the world
Artist has been you, and I have been with you since birth, I was just waiting on you to find me.”

“All that precision with numbers was to refine your vision.
So when you do touch me, you will see the path to my climax in an instant.
Your nature is to be caring, taking your time with my female figure.
Treating each verse like feminine flesh as you learn more about yourself through our intertwined spirits.”

Before I can speak, she hushes me…”There’s something else.
I am your key to Knowledge of Self.
Another one of my duties is to form you into
The man that He has crafted, so that first name and the person it identifies is true.”

Well, I am your Mage’s Staff
Your Mystic Art of Rhythm and Rhyme
I’m your Chi, Chakras, and Vibe
With me, you can Mos Def flip Elizabethan into Ebonics
And inspire minds across the Solar System.”

Then she closed, in her typical confident, sexy, and stubborn way,
With, “Come here and kiss me…place your hand on my thigh.”
In her words, that’s why she’s with me.
Poet, Light, Artist am I.