Writer’s Block, or On Being Indecisive And Fearful When It Comes To Just About Everything

So I just listened, my pen in the air,
for the muse to speak from silence.

A character in a movie
once proclaimed
“the poem writes me.”
What a pretentious prick.

We are not empty vessels
to be filled by fate’s whims
or hung from strings
by a master puppeteer.

We hold our own strings
and yet fear of who I am
/who I might become/
is the blank canvas
that stares back at my stares.

Drowning panic, footing lost
in synaptic whirlpool,
funnels us down, down
into mind’s darkest crevices
where cockroaches scurry.

We brick them away
with high-minded ideas
about us so we can ignore
the deeper I,

memories exiled
while we remain
desperate to be rescued
/enticed onward/

from suspended interlude
where only our breath punctuated
by occasional cough reminds us
we are still here, still listening.

What else can we do?
All we hear in this moment
is the rumble of passing cars,
radiator’s pop pop and hiss,
heavy trodden footsteps
from apartment above.

Is it salvation or sin to capture
an empty moment in time
as if it contains deep insight,
to analyze and label our nothingness

for hope of healing
when it may only estrange us
from ourselves, adding another layer
of pavement over monster’s lair?

Perhaps it’s best to remain silent,
listening, until by some miracle
of courage yet unmet,
pen finally lowers and ink flows.


Note: The first line of this poem (italicized above) is the final line of the poem “I Happen to be Standing” by Mary Oliver


©2023 Kenneth W. Arthur