Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. He enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey), and he firmly believes that Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is the single greatest atrocity committed against mankind. He is a graduate of Clarion Writer's Workshop at UCSD ('13) & Emerson College ('08).

I Am Become Ernest Hemingway, Writer of Booze

Tearing through my parents' basement over Christmas break in search of several missing WARHAMMER pieces (shut up), I stumbled across a few notebooks from college. Still a bit high from the fun and hilarity of my MORTIFIED experience this past Saturday evening in Cambridge, I skimmed through the notebooks, placing certain moments back at specific times in my life. (there's certainly a lot crap, but a bunch of great lines / idea gems in between the crap that maybe someday I'll revisit in song) One thing in particular that stuck out to me -- pages I have been dying to rediscover since it happened -- was a bit of writing I did in July 2006, my first summer spent living in Boston between my sophomore and junior years. 2006 in general was definitely a very significant transition year for me, and while some of that anxiety might slip through here, that's not really the point. I remember the evening when I turned to my then-roommate, Layne, and said "Ya know, Layne, you hear about all these artists, songwriters, etc. with horrible, horrible addiction problems, but still somehow creating their best creative while completely obliterated. But I've never actually done that." So naturally Layne, being the kind and considerate soul she was, walked directly into the kitchen and poured me ten shots of vodka in a line. I looked down at the counter and looked back at her, eyes wide with fear. "Go," she demanded, and, well, I did, because Layne was just that kind of person that you could never down on, even when it was a terrible idea (because you knew that her worst ideas usually made the best stories).

So bam. 10 shots of vodka in a row, right down the hatch. No dinner. A quick chaser of Diet Coke, and I locked myself in the bedroom with a guitar and a notebook and a pen. I didn't even turn the lights on; it felt more poetic that way (whatever man, I was 20), and there was enough light bleeding in through the window from the construction site next door. And I just went, pouring out my every thought in some strange semblance of verse.

Eventually, I compiled some of these lines into a piece called "The Ballad of Gideon Stargrave," but the first time ever, here are my (mostly) unedited ramblings from that fateful drunken night:

I'm stuck somewhere between Myself and I

(And the lock keeps locking loudly when I'm sleeping late past 12)

In a city full of strangers Or a town that's full of ants I'm an albatross awaiting flight, a soldier's final dance before his life and pride are blown apart locked on target for his heart his pen's the only missile that he flies but he's still somewhere between himself and I

This section was titled "Don't Tell Mom & Dad That I Sold Out"

There's a letter in my drawer that I wrote when I was four with a crayon Though the wax is coming off and my handwriting is rough and my spelling hasn't bettered in years I think it says it all There's a flyer on my wall from the local rental hall where I booked shows when I was just 16 and we still sucked

But I've tried to find the words that best describe my frame of mind It's hanging from the mantlepiece, a mix of nails of twine. The string is strung out and nails are warped


Yes, I actually wrote that, scrawled across the page. I assume that I was disappointed with where my words were going -- though looking back, I may have been on to a cool idea with that whole motif of a literal physical frame my mind.


Anyway, it kept going:

Like a charm wearing thin Like a light shining in from the street because I can't afford electric bills. Like a fish drying out Like a boy in a drought of love Only love In a land of snakes and donkeys and the elephants that eat them towering above them like a lamb without his wool but he's offering his blessing to the boy out in the cold because he's given all that he can give he's left with just a face and though the girls can swear he's handsome it's just not to his taste without his arms, without a neck, without his feet, without a heart, he's more than alive and it's more than a start

Clearly I was going for some deep political themes here. I understand the symbolism of elephants and lambs and snakes and donkeys but....what the hell does that even mean?

I think it's the start of a beautiful day when the robots have all gone home and away The sunlight sneaks in through the blinds and tears through the crust that your allergies left on your eyes. The lids peel apart and just to find the calm of her back fast asleep within mine. Your lips part and stretch in a smile as you observer her warm chest rise and fall, rise and fall, to the side and you can't help but smile and sigh as her faint lips part to breathe your air, you long to taste their salty embrace and you long for just once to feel right

He gave me most of his mind He asked me to write To color his life But a poet is lost when his life is alright When the girls are in love When he sleeps through the night

There will be bells and trumpets and choirs that sing to the world when I fall in love There will be wars Once hot but frozen Both hands will shake When I am in love And there will be clouds that will bring in the rain but in moments so precious our lips must stay moist and there will be boys who discover their parents discover their future when i fall in love and there will be grass where dirt resides barren without so much a flower or lone daffodil because the last dandelion that I will become will someday fall in love when he someday breathe his rest

There's another way to find ourselves in love There's another way to find a man within these every walls.

Later I'll be sure to post photos of each of the pages, so you can see how hilariously my handwriting devolved as the night went on.

Naturally the next day I awoke with the sun (because I passed out before I remembered to pull the blinds down), wearing all my clothes and cuddling with my guitar. Surprisingly, I still seem to remember at least a few of the melodies and riffs for the music I wrote during this session...

College was fun.