John L. Stanizzi
Near the end of my 30 Poems in 30 Days Poetry Challenge with Tupelo Press I could feel myself burning out, fading, losing all sense of anything to write about. And so, for at least 3 days, before the "actual" Muse returned, I wrote poems about NOT being able to write poems. These are two of them. As far as the challenge, I did complete 30 "poems" in 30 days, a grueling affair which I'm glad I did but which I'd never do again. Here is the 30/30 website. https://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/
How can you sit there like that in the silence?
You look like you’re waiting for something to happen,
which is ridiculous.
And look at your desk!
— it looks like a table in a hotel room
after some wild party.
You ain’t gonna find nothin’ there,
that stack of books is supposed to impress me,
imply that something creative actually
went on here?
Listen, why don’t you look outside
where the world was made
with a single imperceptible black sweep
slow and extravagant.
Now that is something!
That you could write about!
And it’s still dark now, too.
The river must be imagined
moving under the ice.
and the snow is there,
frozen and sharp as coral,
though you cannot see it
While it’s still dark
you can imagine the beauty
of the leafless trees,
the birds beginning to wake,
their tiny unlikely yawns amazing to witness.
these are the things to write about!
But you’d better hurry.
It’s nearly dawn —
it will be light soon,
and all those things you cannot see
will be gone.
My friends will be awake soon,
a short time after me,
and while I will stay behind
they will step out into the
weak white of January’s last callous sigh,
after they’ve showered, dressed, had their coffee,
and absentmindedly listened to the TV
yap about the horrors that happened
while we tried to sleep.
And then they will leave the dusky warmth
of their peaceful homes.
The dogs, still asleep on the couch,
may look up for a moment,
their eyes at half-mast.
The cat may roll around
in the middle of the kitchen floor,
or already be asleep on the warm bed.
The fish will rise to the top of the tank
and kiss the food from the surface.
My friends will step out
onto the crunch of morning,
the birds still resting,
the landscape silent but for the muffled
noises my friends bring to it.
They will start their frigid cars
and head out sometime shortly before dawn,
their heaters blowing cold air,
to take their places in the world
and begin to make it better.
In his shop, Tommy will be under the hood,
listening and prodding surgically;
he will make that baby hum.
Chuck will be naming every tree along the main drag,
explaining its name,
deciding which will live and which will not.
Susan will be in a room
imagining colors and shapes
and how the light,
or lack of it,
will move through the room,
over and between
the shapes and colors she installs.
Carol will hold the long thin
bodies of knitting needles,
their beaks pecking at each other
in a lovely looping dance
from which will appear
slippers, scarves, and sweaters
to be handed out freely
to those who need such simple things.
And Bobby will pull miles of wire,
drill thousands of holes,
and later when I come home
to perfect darkness
I need only to flip a switch
for the instant comfort of light.
It is 2 in the morning.
Down in the garage my car
will be ready when I am,
to drive out past the sparkling birch,
now a towering 80 feet tall.
The curtains are drawn and lovely,
and hold back the night’s skulking shadows.
I remove the scarf which has warmed me
against the chill of the house,
turn off the light
and go back to bed
kept awake by a nagging poem
that knows neither its place
nor its worth.
©2016 John L. Stanizzi