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Page 49

One could sit down at a table
with a blank sheet of paper on it
and do nothing but look -- not stare,
just look at the blank sheet --
nothing else -- for hours. I recommend
this exercise for poets and readers
(selfishly for readers: I offer a lot
of pages I hope you'll be able to face).
I've done it. It's one way to face
one's demons. Seen clearly, they vanish.

We think of writer's block as facing
a blank sheet for hours, but it is
the opposite: It is inability
to confront a blank sheet of paper.

Writer's block consists of deciding NOT
to have blankness (needing to have
the blankness go away), then sitting
(and standing and lying down and pacing)
in the vicinity of blankness, unwilling,
simply, to confront it, unable to do
nothing BUT confront it, without jitter,
finger tapping, alcoholic encouragement,
cigarette twiddling (bathroom break, and
while I'm at the sink, unwilling to face
the mirror, I'll look down and maybe
jack off...that's better, now, what
should I write on this fucking page?) --

anything but looking at the page
and doing nothing else.

Note: Stanza 1, "Selfishly for readers" – that is, I recommend this exercise for readers selfishly, because I, with all my pages praying (or preying) for readers, will benefit if readers can confront pages.

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