The inky leaves,
the reams of lamenting
left me angry I was not living, so I left off,
stowed the notebooks with the hotel soaps and mix tapes
in a hard-to-open drawer—
but I could not stay away,
pined for each unwritten-down day
until I caved in, got another,
placed it beside a mug and a candle
on the table by my bedroom window
where now the book is flooding me
with all the ravings it might be:
A pep talk or a picked scab,
a compass or a spigot,
a greenhouse or a trash heap,
a flashlight or a shovel?
An airless room where actors rehearse
for plays that run one night if that,
or a stage on which to get the roles just right?
A chronicle of botched focus
proving nothing but the self’s huge shadow—
not moonlight but how I felt in the moonlight?
A box of fantasies or facts,
the salty remarks I wish I’d made
or the leaden ones I did make?
A different sentence to finish each time:
if my mind were a clear glass of water, I’d…?
And was the diary’s “dear”
an ideal reader I stretched to impress
or a pale and fatal siren
slowly doling paralyzing poison?
And when I said I “kept” a journal,
did I mean by that prison or salvage?
graphic graph-paper confessions
of nights laminated or purged,
lurid or dry recounting
of lists or hopes or errors or dreams,
prized sayings divided by asterisks
or secrets divined by no one,
choose me, impose a method, so that
tonight I write something more
in my brand-new, virginal journal
than today I bought a journal;
help me to fill this big blank book of days.
Copyright © Persea Books 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.