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Page 178


Still blank, old page? I'll write a "The." Now what?
That's capital T with lower-case h-e...
"Teehee!" it cries, and claps the sentence shut.

The book? The page? The dog.... Oh, anything BUT!
A "thuh" the or a the that we call "Thee"?
The page was blank. Now it says "the". The WHAT?

You traitor, "The"! You empty hope! You slut!
An article is snickering at me!
"Teehee!" it cries, and claps the sentence shut.

The ant? The apple?... "Thee," thou'rt in a rut.
We call you "definite" -- be SOMEthing. BE!
The page says, blankly, "the," but won't say what.

A poem not working? Critics tell us "Cut."
What's there to cut? Without your "T", you're "he"...
"Teehee!" it cries, and claps the sentence shut.

Let's have a noun, a verb! Get off your butt!
Tee ticks. Aitch aches. The eerie EEK! of EEE!
You're better blank, dumb page, without the what.
"Teehee!" it cries, and claps the sentence shut.

[Now, Reader, unless vile knells are not your cup of T,
you too may clap. Thank you, thank you.]

[A few days after writing the above lines, I read this poem
to ten poets. Not one seemed to notice the miraculousness
of dumb, thudding "the" opening out into giddy "Teehee!"
Not one recognized Chaucer's great line from the Miller's Tale:
"‘Teehee,' she cried and clapped the window to."
I fill these pages with words, but each page,
like the bottomless milk pitcher of mythology,
remains full of blankness.]

Note: "Vile knells" because the first 6 stanzas, above, are a villanelle. I've tried the trick described above, tried to outsmart a blank page by writing the word "The", expecting to have more words follow, only to confront the one thing blanker than a blank page: a page blank but for the word "the". It's a line without a hook or bait and keeps coming up empty.

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