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Page 17

To be or not to be, that is the question
every blank page asks every writer.
And the decision IS...(tada!)
TO BE! Or not to be? MAYBE
to be, just maybe. It all depends
on whether I want to suffer, nobly,
the slings and arrows of critics
(including long-ago critics who now view
my work with my own eyes and populate
my own voice).

There's also the decision to become.
Fish in an ocean are almost the ocean,
shaped to its pressures, moving with its
motions, a comfortable going-with-the-flow.
Dare they evolve, replace fins with arms,
raise their hands to the stars, thus,
taking up arms against a sea of troubles?

I make such puns to attract critics, like ants
to honey or mutts to assholes: It's refreshing
to find critics of my work who aren't
me...yet. (I spent years in grad school
absorbing critics and millennia being them.)

Also, I mess around to relax.
It's hard work making connections among
the words and ideas on a page, connections
that are striking enough to distract you
from the obvious connection: that they are on
the same page. Perhaps this, as much as clarity,
is why we want our poems in print:
to separate the letters, joined in our long-hand
scrawls, where connection is efficient:
A pen is a heavy tool to lift between
each letter. This could explain why so many
of the most prolific writers prefer
large words.

But I apologize for mixing possible profundities
with trivial jokes. I'm sorry. There --
I hope we're back on the same page now.


Note: The last lines of stanza one, above, suggest that when I view my work critically, I am sort of possessed by the views of critics past (including parents and teachers, as well as long-dead literary lions). Or perhaps I was some of those critics in a past life? The "slings and arrows" and "arms against a sea of troubles" are fragments from Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy.

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