Monthly Archives: November 2011

Why I don’t write poetry anymore & poems

by Sam Rasnake
Why I don’t write poetry anymore:
Because someone must be gertrude stein, someone must save us from the literalists and realists, and narratives of the beginning and end, someone must be a river that can type.
                                        – Lynn Emanuel, from inside gertrude stein
Yes.  Absolutely.  And I’ll add: because someone must be William Stafford, someone must save us from the symbolists and literati, and confessionals that go on page after year after open mic, someone must be a river that is only a river.

This is why I don’t write poetry anymore. Can’t.
It has two left feet, and never wears shoes. Goes on binges. It can’t walk a straight line, and refuses to return my calls. The well’s dried up. I’ve lost my pencil, and haven’t been able to get to the store. We’re out of paper. We’re out of ink. My bookshelf is broken. Someone stole my books, then brought them back when I wasn’t looking, but there were more than when I started – far too many – and what I’ve come to believe is that having too many is worse than having none. Why use more words when none will do fine?
I can’t prove it of course because it’s not exactly an empirical problem. Certainly not scientific. Not psychological – thank God. And I don’t have any emotions, so that’s not it. Some might think it a spiritual problem, and they could be right – at least that’s what they’ve told me. I just nod a time or two and go on, keeping my mouth shut. “Live with silence.” There’s the t-shirt. It can’t be wrong. Always the right response.
                    Did you eat fish for supper?                                         (Nothing)
                    Can I borrow fifty bucks?                                             (Nothing)
                    I hope you feel better.                                                 (Nothing)
                    Where were you last week? You never call.                   (Nothing)
                    I prefer her early works.                                               (Nothing)
                    You can take his car.                                                   (Nothing)
                    Hello                                                                          (Nothing)
                    What’s the name of the famous train that runs
                               over the Alps? – square root of twelve?
                               – capital of Madagascar? – Dylan’s best
                               song, assuming there is such a thing?                 (Nothing)
                    Leave your dog. I’ll bring him later.                                (Nothing)

It’s a strong tool for me. Lots of power. I use it all the time now. And the best part? – you’ll like this – Nobody sees it coming.

After Reading Ryōkan’s “Sometimes I sit quietly”
Banks of cloud will pound their wet hieroglyphs

            to green the world and body

            the mountains with darkness

Then nothing

A crow picks up bread and flies past the fence

The open closes in, a careful silence

to weight the morning

Something in the must of everything

            settles down with such awaking,

            in the after of your body,

            in the urging of rivers,

            in the soft tongue of wind

After the Falling Man
A lonely ten

seconds very

public in its


to see to get at

to tell a grace

a perfect stillness

turned on its head

no one wants but

we look anyway

can’t say can’t see

can’t talk about

still falling still

falling we want

our cake and

beauty too

A Room
         – after Edward Hopper
Wordless shadows of a story.

Her eyes fall.  Boxes of light

on an empty floor.  The hard city

looms at both stifling windows

for balance, hers and the painter’s

– his hand a motion of cold  that

finds its form in the lover’s body

facedown in an ignorant pillow.




Sam Rasnake’s latest collection is Inside a Broken Clock (Finishing Line Press).  His works, receiving five nominations for the Pushcart Prize, have appeared recently in OCHO, Wigleaf, Big Muddy, > kill author, BLIP, Poets / Artists, fwriction : review, MiPOesias, Best of the Web 2009, BOXCAR Poetry Review Anthology 2, and Dogzplot Flash Fiction 2011.  He edits Blue Fifth Review, an online journal of poetry, flash, and art.