Voice of the Empty Notebook
Poems from Voice of the Empty Notebook:
The Empty Notebook and Denial
The empty notebook is
terrified of coffee rings,
which remind it of mortality.
Likewise the smell of burnt toast,
the sound of anything being torn.
The empty notebook obsesses
over rocks, scissors, fire.
The empty notebook practices
denial, seeks relative safety in
the shelf’s monastic life. It strips
down to essentials: coffee cup,
pencil, cough drop. It yearns
to slam itself open to tango, samba
paso doble, cha-cha-cha. When
a baritone sax plays salsa dura,
it writhes and breaks its bindings.
Hunger of the Empty Notebook
The empty notebook eats what it wants
around the clock thinking everything
connected, shopping malls, peacocks,
autoharps, sneakers. Asteroids make
the empty notebook think of lamb chops
bleating in a sky-blue field. Neighborhood
gossip, ordinary citizens going berserk,
raids by government agents, the empty
notebook gnaws on memory. It searches
for a dream lost in its spiral binding
halfway down the page. The runaway
dream was white with yellow edges,
shaped like fire but cold to the touch,
like mothballs dipped in the ocean,
like snow blowers going to war.
A Mystery, or How the Empty Notebook Lost its Freedom
The empty notebook finds writing in its margins.
Where does the writing come from? What does it say?
The empty notebook calls a meeting with advisors;
hand-writing expert, private detective, secret agents ─
all agree the message in the margin says BEWARE.
A left-handed intruder of foreign extraction wrote in
blue ballpoint pen of recent design. But no one can tell
the empty notebook how the writer got in, when it
would strike again, what the empty notebook should
beware of. The empty notebook lines up all the ballpoint
pens, strips them, wires them and questions them for hours.
It wraps itself in layers of plastic, seals itself with rolls
of duct tape. Who can write in the empty notebook now?
Advice from the Empty Notebook
Never be the empty notebook.
Never flutter on the line, lifeless
in a back lot like laundry, not like
a starling strangled in the branches.
Never be erasable, never blink,
never stare soulless out of bloodshot
sockets at grackles perching on
fence posts, cackling over the
muddy gutters. Don’t sing about
not knowing, not seeing. Never
unlearn the whistling spark that
shreds the air to splatter the cosmos.
The point of saying vanishes.
It mistakes itself for vision, but
don’t believe it for a minute. Pretend
a durable satisfaction. Pretend it will
not break. Pretend you do not fester;
are not pokeweed, or a pincushion.
Not intergalactic dust. Not a dying star.
Pretend you are not a black hole.