Why I don’t write poetry anymore:

by Sam Rasnake

Because someone must be gertrude stein, someone must save us from the literalists and realists, and narratives of the beginning and end, someone must be a river that can type.                                                                      

                     Lynn Emanuel, from inside gertrude stein


Yes.  Absolutely.  And I'll add: because someone must be William Stafford, someone must save us from the symbolists and literati, and confessionals that go on page after year after open mic, someone must be a river that is only a river.

This is why I don't write poetry anymore. Can't.

It has two left feet, and never wears shoes. Goes on binges. It can't walk a straight line, and refuses to return my calls. The well's dried up. I've lost my pencil, and haven't been able to get to the store. We're out of paper. We're out of ink. My bookshelf is broken. Someone stole my books, then brought them back when I wasn't looking, but there were more than when I started — far too many — and what I've come to believe is that having too many is worse than having none. Why use more words when none will do fine?

I can't prove it of course because it's not exactly an empirical problem. Certainly not scientific. Not psychological — thank God. And I don't have any emotions, so that's not it. Some might think it a spiritual problem, and they could be right — at least that's what they've told me. I just nod a time or two and go on, keeping my mouth shut. “Live with silence.” There's the t-shirt. It can't be wrong. Always the right response. 

     Did you eat fish for supper?                                       (Nothing)

     Can I borrow fifty bucks?                                          (Nothing)

     I hope you feel better.                                                 (Nothing)

     Where were you last week? You never call.             (Nothing)

     I prefer her early works.                                            (Nothing)

     You can take his car.                                                   (Nothing)

     Hello.                                                                              (Nothing)

     What's the name of the famous train that runs

over the Alps? — square root of twelve?

— capital of Madagascar? — Dylan's best

song, assuming there is such a thing?                            (Nothing)

      Leave your dog. I'll bring him later.                          (Nothing)

It's a strong tool for me. Lots of power. I use it all the time now. And the best part? — you'll like this — Nobody sees it coming.

           originally published in A-Minor Magazine