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I – Ordinance

You, who chase markets,
predictor of trends, I need you
to give up the ghost of the writer
you tend. I know you don’t know me—
the cut and the grind of your lens
amplifies everything I am not.

If it helps to pretend
I’m a trick of the light from
too many nights at your desk
or the meds to control your attack
of the dreads, I don’t care. Just
for this moment, get out of
the hair of the writer
who’s gone to a shipload
of trouble to summon me here,
where you are old news, though
a headline, the 10 millionth ripple on
a pond where the stone, unaware she’s
a diamond, now sinks all alone to the
silt and the muck, hearing bubbles
of guilt, thinking thoughts like
I’m f*cked, when she ought
to be gleaming the brighter for
all that you’ve stirred, so again,
marketeer, do not lend me
your ear, just GET OUT!

II – Assemblage

Hello, dear writer,
a pleasure to meet you
alone for the very first time
through these inlets of rhyme
where tycoons of business
lack sense and the timing that
comes with the work that you do
to create how we sail from the jetties
and airs of Paul Getty and heirs
to a seamless provoking
of all that impairs.

Though I have no real name,
you may call me Lacy. I’m your
highest ideal, I’m the reason you
came. I’ve been growing like blazes
and making you crazy creative, do you
hear? Never lazy! But you, you’ve been
reared by well-meaning posteriors to agree
that a park bench or stump is the finest
career. Why, look at the endless succession
of buts that have muffled and squashed you,
while you, gifted writer, are plus, plus, & more!
Now, get up off the floor and listen, no buts.
If you hear them creep in, little bums, just
go back to Ordinance and read me again.

III – Agitation

How can I put this?
Agitation is everything.
The discomfort you feel
is a story that’s reeling you
in like a fish—maybe true, may
be wild, a confession, a rant.
What you never must do
is to dribble the story
like a bucket of worms
for approval, attention.
Baiting too soon is
the biggest mistake
of the writers who die,
the flounders, the flakes.

On those days
when the words are
elusive, stay away from
the news of literary markets.
They will only confuse between
dis- and encourage. A writer is
something outside and beyond units
sold, saturation. You’re leading edge,
friend! Best thing you can do is
indulge relaxation.

Start to believe
in those moments
of ease, you’re surrounded
by masters who went on
before you—call them ghosts,
friendly hosts, doesn’t matter,
they’re real. Read the best of the
best of them, never descend, and
address them as if they were here in
the room. “I can be just like you.” Tell
them: “Yes, I might even be better!”

Your writing, I promise, will start up
again. Succumb every dawn to that small
agitation, and soon the whale will turn to
see what is biting him. You will be the splash
you came here to be, the diamond at the center,
and I the lace you have quietly donned.


© Elaine Stirling, 2014