PROSE. From the Journals of a Muse by Jeremiah Matthews Part III


Once the Boss had laid the meeting time upon me, I glided slowly down the hall towards Poetry, unaware that my feet were moving. The lack of details had brought out the nail biter in me, especially since I knew Flo would spill whatever beans she had in her can as soon as I could corner her. There was no time — the Boss needed me to spread the word about the meeting, and unfortunately for me, I placed loyalty to her above my own sanity. The Poetry department was next to my home base of Narrative, so I dropped a few things on my desk and headed for Shel’s office.

Yes, the idea that the Muses of Poetry work under someone named Shel raises many an eyebrow through the roof — trust me when I say with certainty that Shelley has been around much longer than Percy or Mr. Silverstein. The chicken heartedness I had when I first met Shel slowly evolved into admiration — unlike other department heads, she’s always been more concerned with the Artist (or Poet, in this case) than with the audience. If she existed in the Artist world today, I imagine she would be the last person to attend a poetry reading. I don’t believe the audience enters any part of her thought process, and should it enter the minds of her employees, they have learned to keep it to themselves.

If the Boss’s office dangled dangerously off the messy side of the spectrum, Shel’s office stood securely balanced on the other end. Like the Boss, Shel could find any piece of paper she needed at any given time, but since everything was flawlessly organized (for reasons I cannot understand, only post-its of a certain color were permitted in certain drawers), the cleanliness was somehow less impressive to me. What did impress me was that although the office’s deco rarely changed, something about the room always seemed to match her outfit.

With nothing but dustless space neighboring it, centered perfectly under Shel’s glass topped desk was one of Emily Dickinson’s:

“Much Madness is divinest Sense—
To a discerning Eye—
Much Sense—the starkest madness—
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevails—
Assent, and you are sane—
Demur—you’re straightway dangerous—
And handled with a Chain—”

That was Shel.

She sat at the desk going through her typically tall stack of papers with a red-feathered quill. Without a “hello” or artificial “how are you,” she instead served a “what d’you need?” at me, still absorbed in her work. When I returned the vigorous serve with “The Boss needs to have a company meeting,” she finally glanced up, the red quill still moving before slowly coming to a stop.

She looked at every part on my face but somehow refused to let our eyes meet. To my chin I think, she finally asked, “They’re really doing it, aren’t they?” without really asking. Since apparently we had checked our question marks at the door, I tried to figure out how to probe for more.

But before my craftiness could kick in, she lobbed a single phrase directly above my head. It arced over me and lingered there for a few seconds before it hit: “They’re down-musing.”

Some of us were on our way out.

Jeremiah Matthews’ Past Works:
From the Journals of a Muse Part II
From the Journals of a Muse Part I

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1 Comment

  1. […] Matthews’ Past Works: From the Journals of a Muse Part III From the Journals of a Muse Part II From the Journals of a Muse Part […]


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