10 RULES FOR POETRY
Stop being superstitious. You do not
need a special pen or a blue notebook.
You do not need a tidy study with
a writing desk, or a corner table
in a dark café. You do not need to
drink anything but water, and any
cup will do. You do not need stars aligned,
flights of birds, a yellow candle, a white stone.
You do not need melancholy or fear.
You do not need to be in love or war.
You do not need an oracle or a muse.
All you need is a word, and another word.
You have to do something besides it.
Reading resembles it too much except
for books about the Civil War or bird-
watching. Birdwatching is good, except for
seagulls, who steal words. Robbery is okay,
but do you really need more things? Taking
care of things, in moderation, can be
helpful, except for electronic things
that claw out your eyeballs. Nobody wants
to read any poetry about that.
Silence is essential but not absolute.
Breezes are allowed, a bit of birdsong,
some water sounds—no seagulls or faucets.
The undertow of café chatter is fine,
but not the shrill of phone chat. Purring cats,
yes. Barking dogs, no. If your husband is
drilling or sawing in the next room no
matter how much you want a new tub surround,
you might as well give up.