The Wisdom of Others
Concerning Writing

"A writer must be universal in sympathy and an outcast by nature; only then can he see clearly."

~~ Julian Barnes

"No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted."

~~ W. H. Auden (1962)


"Ghost Writer in Communicado"

In the corner of his room, at his desk with single chair,
he touches parts long dormant as he wins at solitaire.
For warmth hes wrapped in blankets made of consonants and vowels;
the passage of the days is marked by counting stomach growls.

He fills his well-used needle with a permanent black ink
and shoots it straight into his vein which takes him to the brink.
The liquid courses through him and then goes right to his head;
It takes him far away from all the months he went unfed.

He sees hallucinations that write stories in his brain ---
about people who paint flowers to save them from the pain,
about some others laughing as they watch the fireflies,
about a long lost lover he remembers when he cries.

Hell use them all as yarn when he spins tales upon his loom
and watch the mountains rising from the windows of his room.
Hes in Communicado where he doesnt know a soul;
for sustenance, he dines on punctuation casserole.

For his entertainment, he asks the adverbs for a dance;
playing tunes by Holiday puts them all into a trance.
Slowly, Gently, Lightly, Softly --- they glide across the floor;
he does tire Quickly, but they keep begging him for more.

For further inspiration, he takes walks through trees outside
and plucks some nouns and verbs from twisted branches where they hide.
He nearly breaks a tooth when he bites down on unripe words;
trips on objects too far gone, so he leaves them for the birds.

When weary of the stories, he plays Scrabble with a clause,
or on a canvas he inserts allusions as he draws.
If he needs other labor, he throws pots upon his wheel,
with commas for the handles and acronyms for his seal.

At cocktail hour, he mixes metaphors in a glass;
he gets so drunk by nine, at a gerund he makes a pass.
The gerund finds a complement and no longer requires
his attention, so alone with his book he retires.

This solitary life spent with the subjects of his craft
would seem too much for others and most likely leave them daft.
The people of the town know hes just a harmless psycho
and do not fear the ghost writer in Communicado.

2000 MJM



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