Bright ribbon unspooling

When the poetry is working, it doesn't feel so much that I'm crafting it as that it's presenting itself. Of course it's not often like this, but it has been -- the bright ribbon of the poem unspooling in my mind and waiting while my fingers fasten it to the paper. I've had that. God, I've had that.

Beth Ann Fennelly

I’ve had it, too. Not lately. Not now. Instead, I have this:

Things to do

to avoid writing when writing — or the ability to write anything smart, clever, insightful or real— seems impossible, unbearable, improbable:

Check email. But don’t respond. To respond means you are engaged and engagement reveals the charade of writing.

Research poems. Look for the William Stafford poem you heard while listening to someone else’s more interesting conversation. Go to Google and discover, a half hour later, that the poem has no online home. You must buy the entire book. Contemplate an order. Recall your credit card balance. Rethink your instinct. Go back to search of poem. Read others, but quickly because you are supposed to be writing.

Go to Facebook. See if your ‘friends’ are doing anything you don’t know about, want to know about, slightly care about. Berate yourself for indulging in trivial distractions.

Hear other poets. Listen to readings of little-known poets in little-known places and wish it were you. Remember that they spent hours writing and reading and writing more. Look at your empty page. Compare and despair.

Eat. Reconsider breakfast. Cereal. And a spoonful of peanut butter. And a Diet Coke.

While wiping the kitchen counter, remember the load of jeans in the washer, the whites in the dryer. Fold the towels. Consider the stack of shirts to iron. Walk away.

Feel the pressure of a New Year. Revisit the vow to write more and eat less. Recognize the luxury of time. Kick yourself for wanting, wasting, complaining.

Turn off computer, or just the email. For one full day — okay, one hour.

Check email one last time.

Pick up pen. Don’t think. Forget and forgive, all you are, all you want to be.

— Drew Myron