i see, e.e.

the voice of e.e.

sounds soft

                   and wee,

but it rings in the mind

     (of those who have)

like the cracked bell, or the

     last knell



The two-o’clock in the morning empty page blues


When I first stared down at this snowy expanse, I was really feeling all right.

My head was clear, a thought was near,

and a happy clink of the ice in my drink

gave hope it would be a productive night.

I flexed my fingers a couple of times just to loosen them up for the fray,

piled up a neat stack of white sheets,

and then settled down to some classical sounds

as a stack of records began to play.

But that was about five hours ago, and I’m sure you can predict the news:

my brain’s a fuzz, I’ve got a buzz,

I lost that first thought, and I fear that I’ve got

the two-o’clock in the morning empty page blues.


For about the first hour or so I could claim to be getting in the mood,

with one more drink to help me think

about when I wrote that funny anecdote

about going downtown to get tattooed.

And then the next two hours or so were spent trying to think of something new,

like what it took to write a book,

or about the time I had a great rhyme

but never quite managed to make it through.

But deep inside I already knew that these were nothing except the first clues

that soon I’d feel the pain for real

because it was near, that plague all writer’s fear:

the two-o’clock in the morning empty page blues.


That blasted white sheet was still as barren as the sands of the Gobi Desert,

without a bit of heat in it

to brighten my day and maybe help pay

a few bills … I didn’t need a treasure.

The only productive thing I could claim is I’d killed half a bottle of gin.

It tasted fine, so I can’t whine,

but it costs a lot to imbibe like a sot

if I don’t do what brings money in.

You know by now that to add to my coffers it takes words, whether false or true.

Fact or fiction, there’s no friction

that I mind as much as the paper’s rough touch—

the two-o’clock in the morning empty page blues.


But how can I write great material when my eyes are all puffy and red?

My ears are clogged, my tongue is fogged,

my mind is a loss, like a rock under moss,

and my desire is totally dead.

I’ve already turned the records over, and the second side sounds like the first;

not that they’re bad, but I have had

it with all of this damned repetitiousness,

and staring down at this sheet is the worst.

My head keeps on hitting the keyboard, and I’d really like to go take a snooze,

but that ain’t right; I’ve got to fight,

because nothing’s worse than that dread writer’s curse:

the two-o’clock in the morning empty page blues.


But my ammunition is running low, and to start with it wasn’t a lot.

The bottle’s dead, and so’s my head;

the paper’s still white as a virgin is tight,

so what chance have I seriously got?

Yet, suddenly, a miracle seems to be happening in front of my eyes:

each time I blink I see more ink!

My depression seems to have produced strange dreams

that my fingers are beginning to fly.

Yes, here it is, nearly 3 a.m., and I guess I’ve finally paid my dues.

I’ve covered these blank sheets with ease,

and, great or a bore, this poem means no more

of two-o’clock in the morning empty page blues!



ah, jane,

“gentle”(!) jane;

did you go “gentle”

into that good night?

or did you rage,

did you fight

against the snuffing

of your terribly calm light—

   (so steady, so bright)


the sword so swift,

the thread so light;

life has the beauty,

but death the might…

often, only then are we right


good night,

                  my muse,

                                  good night



The Man Who Dealt in Words


He felt they were dammed up in him (or damned up in him);

he would shrivel like an overripe grape to a desiccated raisin

if the words he had so far contained

were not allowed to flow into sweet wine

for others to drink.


And so he wrote.


After so many years of constraint, the words tumbled and leapt

from his pen to the page like wild beasts fleeing a forest fire.

At first furious and without direction,

they became more purposeful as they passed the boundaries

of the heat of the initial blaze.


And he was happier.


The stream of syllables and sentences were a catharsis for him,

a sweet surcease from the frustration he had felt for most of his life.

Living in the corporate cage, where terse notes were tomes,

creativity was measured in marketing strategies,

and profitability passed for success.


His relief was palpable.


Over time, he could see his creations taking a living shape

like a sculptor mastering a piece of clay, not quite ready for the kiln.

The yearning grew to have others read and ponder, perhaps to praise,

but his work drew little notice, and no rewards

other than his own pleasure in the simple act.


But he was content.

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