michael king

stack of stained pages, redacted love letters, spilling ink, pressing it into tomorrow

a list of my bad habits.

In no particular order, an incomplete list of the bad habits I’ve discovered:

  • lugging warm laundry back to my apartment, setting the hamper to the floor boards, and never quite getting around to putting the clothes away
  • during temporary stays, identifying a ‘space’ for my things, usually in the living room, and casually expanding it throughout my stay
  • buying produce –– peppers, strawberries, potatoes –– and failing to eat it before it withers
  • balking at the idea of spending thirty dollars on something useful while casually dropping thirty-five on dinner and drinks
  • telling every story that pops into my mind, neurons firing as I’m listening, and feeling certain, each time, it’s right to do
  • granting myself permission to disappear on rainy days
  • revisiting the scars in my story, wresting that tissue apart, mining old wounds for meaning
  • remembering the people who left, in vibrant detail
  • bargaining with my body through healing processes –– dancing on sore ankles, running with a scratchy throat and feverish forehead
  • practicing the same impatience when it’s my spirit that needs healing
  • getting so swept up in passion for my perspective that I forget to listen
  • building a case against the people who’ve hurt me, evidence with razor-sharp edges
  • building a case for myself, keeping tally sheets of the times my love has borne fruit, as though this will undo the other tally sheet I can’t stop keeping, the scars I’ve inflicted in my recklessness
  • believing I will keep myself safe from pain by negotiating myself down from the things I really want
  • putting the dishes off until the sink is full and daunting
  • insisting on pushing the conversation into territory that interests me –– what’s heavy, what’s hurting, burning hope, hollow grief, searing pain
  • falling in love with the idea of somebody and pitting their reality against their potential
  • deciding almost any setback is cause to order Chinese food, wrap up in blankets, and watch a movie
  • convincing myself I am impossible to know
  • running my hardest for people who demand the chase
  • leaving cabinets and closet doors wide open, their contents peering out blankly
  • watering plants only once they’ve begun to droop
  • tabling hard decisions until the last possible moment
  • spending the first thirty minutes of my day in bed, scrolling through my phone, watching minutes dissolve


ghosts i’ve kept.


Before I begin, I want to share a few notes on ghosts. I’ve written them, each of them, down on scrap pieces of paper, stray blank pages in cluttered notebooks, penmanship a messy sprawl. Rarely does inspiration come in the moments I’m searching for it, and lessons have never arrived in the packaging I asked for.

Ghosts are, first and foremost, indifferent to your thoughts on their existence. They interact with us all, the open radicals and stalwart rationalists alike, haunt our hallways, watch us study our faces in the mirror.

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miles and months.

if you were going to leave,
you could have had the decency
not to wear that cologne, concentrated
there where your neck meets
your shoulder, where i’d bury
my face and rest

so that today, all these
hundred miles away and
thousand days later, i
wouldn’t brush by a stranger
wearing it too, and
remember it, you, the way
you arrived like a hurricane
and disappeared just as


bad habits.

lately, i’ve been
hovering my palms
over an open flame,
how familiar a feeling,
i’d forgotten, in the
binding and tearing of
what a thrill it
is to burn.


a man & his lion.

a man was mauled
by the lion he’d been
keeping as a pet
in his backyard, my
mother said, sighing at
the headline he
might have seen coming

and i was wordless, tangled
again in my yesterdays, nothing
more human, after all, than
searching for love by
ushering in the reckless wild


love letter to my twenties.


A letter to me at twenty years old. Before I tell you anything, let me tell you what I remember: It’s the summer of 2009, and you’re a few weeks away from moving back to Ball State for Sophomore year. Your first year there brought you its fair share of breakthroughs –– a runner was born, shedding weight and few old notions about being stuck, and you’ve only just begun etching a story that feels like your own. You savor these days, home in Brazil, Indiana. Running childhood roads, laughing with family, jumping into Grandma’s swimming pool.

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book club: ‘long live the tribe of fatherless girls’.

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls jumped out to my eyes immediately, a book cover shining spectacularly among the Strand’s new releases. I cracked it open, sighing to myself a reminder of all the books waiting for me back home, and read a page at random. In it, the writer recalls the time her friend Clarissa helped her staple her skirt back together, reflecting on the strange rescue of friendship.

I bought it, and –– once I cracked it open –– I devoured it.


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