The fear of it, and the wonder/ Kept me sleepless

[The White Room — Charles Simic]

The obvious is difficult
To prove. Many prefer
The hidden. I did, too.
I listened to the trees.

They had a secret
Which they were about to
Make known to me–
And then didn’t.

Summer came. Each tree
On my street had its own
Scheherazade. My nights
Were a part of their wild

Storytelling. We were
Entering dark houses,
Always more dark houses,
Hushed and abandoned.

There was someone with eyes closed
On the upper floors.
The fear of it, and the wonder,
Kept me sleepless.

The truth is bald and cold,
Said the woman
Who always wore white.
She didn’t leave her room.

The sun pointed to one or two
Things that had survived
The long night intact.
The simplest things,

Difficult in their obviousness.
They made no noise.
It was the kind of day
People described as “perfect.”

Gods disguising themselves
As black hairpins, a hand-mirror,
A comb with a tooth missing?
No! That wasn’t it.

Just things as they are,
Unblinking, lying mute
In that bright light–
And the trees waiting for the night.

All In A Day’s Work

1) Wake up.

2) What time is it? You don’t know. There is light. Therefore it must be day.

3) Get up. Are you sober? Are you hungover? Are all of your limbs still attached? Is there coffee anywhere in your studio? These are called Morning Questions. You will start every morning by asking them.

4) Start writing!! You are SO DETERMINED. Your notes are EVERYWHERE. Your pens are EVERYWHERE. Your post-it notes are EVERYWHERE. You are galloping across the Literary Wild West, guns a-blazing.

5) But is it lunch-time yet? Did you hear Blake’s van? And is that a chipmunk that just ran past the window? And are those DEER? And if there are DEER, does that mean that you will also see a COYOTE? And if you go outside, will you stumble across a soporific BEAR? Will it be your FRIEND? You might as well go outside and see…

6) And oh look, here’s the guitar that you stole from some other hapless resident. (He would be procrastinating in the same way that you are, except you have his guitar.) So now you’re sitting sprawl-legged on the floor playing the same five chords for three hours. Because if being a playwright doesn’t cut it, you can always be a rockstar, right?

7) And do you remember that poem that Ted Hughes wrote, about the thing, with the thing, and then that thing happened? Oh man. You better go look it up. You might as well look it up while lounging in the bath-tub, if you’re going to look it up. It’s called research! What?

8 ) What’s that sound? Is the dinner-bell ringing? The dinner-bell IS ringing. Time for dinner. Well, you can just finish that next scene tomorrow, because there is a great probability that you won’t be back to your studio until long after midnight.

Sometimes I have a dream of a faraway place called Real Life. It seems very frightening and chaotic. Then I wake up. And there we are, at #2.