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)
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
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
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
– 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.