The Art of Putting Things Off


I intended to write for a couple of hours this morning,
establish a new routine, Kooser-like. Yet here I sit,
already up for an hour, on a second cup of coffee
and, Rita, spirited fifteen-year-old chihuahua
next to me on the couch, doggie snoring.

I turn on the television. Mike Lindell caresses a My Pillow,
exhorts me to buy a couple, include the code on the screen
and receive a discount.

Next, Marie Osmond, sans belly fat, insists I can lose
thirteen pounds and seven inches in a month
on the Nutrisystem program. She illustrates by
dropping a handheld barbell, gone she says.

I switch to a business network. A sparkly-eyed huckster
urges me to buy silver, emphatic it will soon double in price.
His pitch makes me wonder why his agency is eager to sell,
why not hold the silver and reap the windfall themselves.

I try a music channel, listen to What Are You Doing
the Rest of Your Life, realize I’m not sure what I’m doing
the rest of the day. I turn off the TV. (Minow’s vast wasteland, indeed.)

It is maddening, this business of putting-off, conscious
avoidance — fragments of waifish poetry lie about
unattended, orphans of my negligence. I give in easily
to other activities — read the newspaper, work crosswords,
browse the online news outlets.

I refuse to yield to further distractions. I jot down a few thoughts
for my lifeless poems. A start. To rouse my creative angels,
I revisit Hayden Carruth’s Collected Longer Poems.
Free verse meditations on old age, love, and war, fragility
of the mind, guilt and sentimentality — musings of a
discontent man who drank deeply from the cup of life.

Carruth’s passionate grasp of the language and precision
in usage inspires, sparks my enthusiasm. Fresh ideas
tumble out, start to congeal. I will bring them to the page,
soon. Heartened, I feel good about the prospect of
giving form to my snippets of poetry.

Sunrise opens up the night sky. I glance out the window,
a cormorant surfaces in the lagoon, a wriggling shad
pincered in its long hooked bill — the diving bird glides
to shore with its catch.

The rising day is autumn in full, colorful, cool, and sunny. It
could be a day to cast a line, feel the tug and run of a plump bass.
I can work on a poem later, for sure tomorrow. It would be foolish
to stay indoors on such a day.

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This Poems Story

Procrastination and distractions when attempting to write poetry.