I’ve never been bothered much by Writer’s Block, but I’ve been plagued by its nasty cousin, Writer’s Laziness. It’s up with me every morning, winding its long, lugubrious shape around bookshelves and chairs. I drink coffee, take a walk, vacuum the carpets, but no, it’s still there, with its empty face. To be honest, the only thing I’ve found that works is to open a Word file, which stares at me with its stainless purity until laziness struggles with guilt. Since I’m Jewish, guilt usually wins. If I can’t think of something to write, I start on a family story, altering or filling in to make up the narrative. Here are three examples:
The Sailor and the Polar Bear
I love the shapes you’ve carved on my memory,
the sheen of sweat on our arms as we walked
into the park at 59th street, looking for ice cream.
We knew just how to tear the wrappers to protect
our wrists from melt, how to break the shell
of chocolate with our teeth while the cream was solid
and cold. We ate fast, but slowly enough to keep
pleasure alive. We moved our tongues and smiled.
Once at the zoo, we saw a sailor jab a polar bear
in the nose with his fist,
but when he tried again, the bear flicked
its enormous head and the man’s hand
came away bloody, the skin
on his left index finger torn and hanging
in raw strips. As he wrapped it with his
handkerchief, a lady told him the bear had poison teeth.
Buildings seemed to tremble in the heat.
Taxis glided south down 5th Avenue
as if they were coated with bright yellow
candy shells. The air smelled of heat
and frankfurters and fine, black subway dust.
Something had ripped off the mask of day.
All night I saw that finger wrapped in cloth.
Blood seeped, spilling on the empty sidewalk in the dark
She Asks Me to Recite a Poem
So I do “The Tyger,” and when I
finish, she strokes my cheek
and asks, So in what furnace
was thy brain? And I say in the star
furnace, love, just like yours.
And our eyes and hands and fingers…
and she strokes my hair and I
disappear into the sweet cloud of her,
pulsing like a thousand roaring suns.
If My Granddaughter Asks Why the Sky is Blue
Today the sky is cloudless, and so blue you could disappear
into its bottomless well, so blue it takes your breath away.
We stare and stare, leaving aside all the things we need to do.
We are spellbound by blue light, and you so taken you forget
to ask why the sky is that way. All night I dreamt of white
sunlight scattered by particles and gasses all over this wide sky.
Blue waves are shorter than red, so short blue waves scatter
everywhere. Ok, but violet waves are shorter still,
so why not a purple sky? No, sweetie, I understand nothing.
But this sweet music on the radio sounds like a dance, and I
can almost see those long waves, invisible, twirling and gliding
in red gowns, slender and graceful as the pure white necks of swans.
© 2017 Steve Klepetar
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