This page, too, was once as blank
as tomorrow. This very line was blank,
this phrase, word -- you and I,
we were not here (some say, not anywhere).
Is anything ever absent? Is anything ever lost
in this world so chock-a-block with presence?
Is everything its own opposite? (I could have said,
as truly, that this page was once as blank
as yesterday, as full and rich as tomorrow.)
The world is motion, ceaseless (Cecil-less,
perhaps lacking Cecil, the Seasick Sea Serpent,
sea-sickness being an objection to motion),
but can I not make my thoughts stand still?
(But where would my thoughts stand?)
(On the head of a pin?) Into what abyss
can God (who is everywhere? Nowhere?)
I think the blankness that is God becomes man
by saying "blankness" or "there's no one here."
Man is what names the beasts (those that be --
Beast, thou be'st!). When man names "nothing,"
that is his most profound discovery (of God?
Of self? Of the Arabic number zero, so crucial
to modern mathematics? Of pages on which
to write poems? Of endless strings of questions?).
Words emerge -- no, more simply, they come to be --
no -- are! How simple! Not from or on a blankness
that pre-existed ready to receive words. No, words
are here (no words are here); I make them
But as I dwindle into merely human,
I find a blank page and must fill it with words.
There never was a blank page. I make blankness
with my words. The blank page is my creation --
my first poem.
Note: I suppose we become aware of blankness by putting words
on it or trying to. The wall (patternless paint) is not blank. I
don't think of it as blank, because I don't think of it as a place
to put words. Children often do, as do revolutionaries and others
who object to walls and put words on them as a way of owning walls
and preparatory to tearing them down, perhaps. If man names the
beasts, is "nothing" a beast? Then why does "Revelations"
assign 666 as the number of the Beast, rather than 0? Perhaps the
Beast (like the title of Jules Pheiffer's first book of cartoons)
is sick sick sick..
Stanza 3: "Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent" was a character
on a TV puppet show in the early 50s ("Beany and Cecil")
and on a cartoon version in the early 60s. The show was not ceaseless.
It ceased. We have since been Cecil-less.)