Alone in the studio this morning, I listened to poets Billy Collins and Howard Nemerov on YouTube while I exposed sheet after sheet of film, each for 25 seconds, then washed each one out under hot running water, after which they were strung (with manuscript clips!) to lines above my head.
Water underfoot on the concrete floor. Cold coffee. Water railing from the sky outside.
Dissatisfied and uninspired Monday.
What I wanted was to march into Washington to give the House of Representatives and Boehner a piece of my mind — and the back of my hand. I'm counting on The Affordable Care Act, which translates into a raise for me. I mean, I love working as an artist but, as in poetry, it ain't where the big money lurks.
And I started to think about poetry, about the fact that I often hate poetry, wish that I could just walk away from it, like a bad relationship. I can't read more than a single poem at a time, because for me a single poem is often the equivalent of an entire novel, distilled down to a minimum of lines. Reading ninety pages of poetry is like eating ninety pieces of cake. (And reading ninety pages of bad poetry is like eating ninety pieces of Safeway cake: shortening, sugar, food coloring.) An entire collection of poetry can take months to read. This is a problem. But I can't go without it! It's what makes sense to me, the thing that unwinds the tangled threads connecting everything.
And then there's the writing of it. I'll go months without a new piece, and every day passed in the absence of a new poem is barely tolerable. A certain deadness lingers, a procession of days minus those moments of clarity where life unfolds into an infinite number of possibilities.
It's been a month since a new poem tapped me on the shoulder and demanded WRITE ME. I need my fix, my sugar, my twenty-five lines of metaphorical caffeine. I need a simile, like an addict needs a hit. Shoot me up with imagery. Get off your assonance and alliterate me. And make it quick. (She said to the muse.)
What I don't need is a bunch of white guys in Congress with their penis-waving puffed-up self-aggrandizing self-important (is that redundant?) agendas messing with my access to affordable health care.
(The muse whispers settle down.)
It's late now.
I'm tired and poemless.
Bring on the violins —