2 poems | Zach Nabors

Manic Young Writer And The Misadventures of His Alter Ego: Laughing Boy
I have a voice goddamnit! No matter
What your robotic rejection email says.
“We wish you luck publishing elsewhere.”
They ALL say.
Thank God for all the Lit-Mag wishes.
Where would I be without them???

I got style mothafuckas.
The substance is somewhere—
Just look closely.

There’s a time
In a writer’s life
When it all comes together
And he begins writing publishable Work—
According to Bukowski’s publisher.

There is also a time
In a writer’s life
When it all falls to the biting teeth of the abyss
Say 3 in the morning, in your boxers,
In a house, not your own with
Actual work the next morning,
But you submit short story one after the other
Poem after poem, even a goddamn essay or two
Just to be rejected by a Lit-Mag
That only 3 people read.
Reading all of the template rejection slips
As if they would suddenly change—They got it all wrong!
Hoarding them all like they were high school breakup letters.

Editor’s note: Trigger warning for suicide.

How To Become the Next Great Writer
Be a good schoolboy; take in everything.
Remember it all. Be different though. Stand
Out. Drink alcohol—heavy booze,
Do it to excess.
Go to war, maybe because you want to,
Maybe because you don’t.
Just know a great generation is not
Made without one. Don’t write about it too
Much though, those people tend to burn
Out much more quickly. Come home. Passionately
Love a woman, who once was a girl you always
Wanted to love. Then leave her.
Go to Europe. Travel all over.
Yet, set up Camp around the West Bank. Drink—
Drink more—write—make love to
Your expatriate friend’s wife. Make
Sure he knows; he maybe even joins.
Romanticize the sultry scene in an
Episode of your next novel, and/or
Ridicule them both, either way it
is Modernist genius.
Go to Spain—you must—witness
Death be confronted firsthand.
See death lose the confrontation and
Then see death triumph. Enjoy it,
Or look away, be disturbed,
or both.
Then you come home, grow old;
Bald or white. Watch your prose
Disintegrate while the art of the gripping
First sentence dies. Your children are grown,
Bitter, full of hate over your vast shadow.
Call your first wife. Ask if she still loves you;
Ask her when everything changed:
Was it in Florence? Chamonix? Pamplona?
Live your last days in Big Sur, or Mexico,
Oxford, Mississippi, or Idaho. Accept
A Pulitzer Prize or Noble, though you know
You deserved it when you were much younger;
When you were honest. When your pain was
Authentic. When the first sentence still stood
Strong, maybe for the novel wherein you
Ridiculed your friends…Drink…By now you’re
Good at it.
Realize you always hated your father
Though you are possibly a more sinister,
More hideous form of him. Get a gun; one
With a long barrel. Practice pulling the
Trigger with your toe. Do the deed when
Your final wife is out getting the groceries.
Leave a note. Something poetic, or don’t—it
Doesn’t matter, your leading sentence does
Not carry the weight it once did. Either way you
Are a genius.
This is how you become a great writer.


Zach Nabors, a self-proclaimed writer of many forms, is essentially a lazy man, an outsider with high blood pressure, located in northwest Tennessee on the border of Kentucky, afflicted with the itch of landlocked blues. He has two two year olds, twins, and is about to finally finish his BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Tennessee at Martin after many self-induced setbacks (Hillbilly Heroin, etc.). His writing, for better or worse, comes in the ghost hours of the night and early morning when not procrastinating by chain smoking while indulging in classic films or reading until he passes out. He writes articles randomly for fultonkynews.com and has work that has appeared in On the Rusk, the Northwest Tennessee Writer’s Guild Anthology, Beanswitch, the upcoming fall issue of the Stone Highway Review, The Dying Goose Quarterly, and now Vagabond City.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.