Tom Sawyer painted the fence white.
The joy of creating a blank page for future
graffiti artists? Does the poet create the blankness
of his pages? Were they blank (or just paper full of
papery texture) before the poet decided they needed
filling? When I first opened this book of blank pages
(no longer blank), it looked quite natural --
as surprised by my presence as I was by finding
no words, but, by and large, well-adjusted,
at peace with being blank paper. I felt no compulsion
to write on it. I just decided to -- like saying "let's play!"
Tom began painting the fence reluctantly --
an enforced chore. He made up the "fun" part
to entice others to do the work -- though he perhaps
began to believe it himself, or at least enjoyed
his own cleverness. I suppose this art can be
a chore, a "sullen art," though I seldom find it so.
Or am I only pretending this is fun so you'll join me?
Is all our joy in creating and communicating
no more than the false twinkling of hostess and guests
and ice cubes with holes in them at a party,
each (each hole? Each person?) having "a wonderful time,"
each thinking "When can I leave?" or "Why do I come
to these things?" or "Smile, mustn't forget to smile"
"Now we'll have to invite HER over in return."
Do we enjoy our social rituals -- at least enjoy
knowing we love one another enough to join
in the pretense? Is all my art only false smiles,
the click-clack of ice cubes, reflecting
cigarette glows, the hands ever-so-urgently
touching wrists, brittle chatter, the drinks
that loosen us, a bedroom I know of where
you and I can get away for a quickie...?
[What, by the way, is a time? Can a time
be red? Yellow? Deep? Shallow? Wonderful?
Are you having a time of it?]
Note: Dylan Thomas refers to poetry as a "sullen art"
(not sure if that's his phrase or taken from someone earlier).
Papers need filling, then filing then...fling!