The Blank Page

Just enough snow to make us believe
that today is a blank page and
on these faint lines, we can write
a short story with a happy ending
or a heroic couplet ending a poem.


The window screen divides the scene
into thousands of pixels, and each one
will need to be filled, black or white,
on or off, here or not here.
A crossword puzzle we can never complete.

On the eve of 2014

WRITING THE DAY is a new daily practice I am going to attempt for 2014. The idea is simple – and not totally original – to write a poem each day.

I wanted to impose some form on myself each day. I love haiku, tanka and other short forms, but I decided to create my own form for this project.

I am calling the form ronka – obviously a somewhat egotistical play on the tanka form.

These poems are meant to be one observation on the day. It might come to me upon waking. It might come during an afternoon walk, or when I am alone in the night preparing to sleep.

wave crossing

I am thinking that these observations will come from paying attention to the outside world from earth to sky. Other poems will come from inside – inside a building or inside me.

William Stafford is the poet who inspired this daily practice the most for me. Stafford wrote every day of his life from 1950 to 1993. He left us 20,000 pages of daily writings that include early morning meditations, dream records, aphorisms, and other “visits to the unconscious.” He used sheets of yellow or white paper and sometimes spiral-bound reporters’ steno pads.

It’s not that I don’t already write every day. I teach and writing is part of the job. I do social media as a job and for myself.  I work on my poetry. I have other blogs. But none of them is a daily practice or devoted to poems.

When Stafford was asked how he was able to produce a poem every morning, starting at either 4 or 4:30 AM depending on which account you read, and what he did when it didn’t meet his standards, he replied, “I lower my standards.”

I like that answer, but I know that phrase “lowering standards” has a real negative connotation. I think Stafford meant that he allows himself some bad poems and some non-poems, knowing that with daily writing there will be eventually be some good work.

Makes sense to me.