I’ll crumple the paper before beginning to write
on it, or sometimes I’ll spray my notebook with water,
then sit in the sun, jabbing at the muggy pages with
a pencil. Each does what he can to make this process
more difficult, and why not? The white paper’s selfish,
wanting only more space and silence, inviting words
as one might houses to an Alaskan glacier, or inviting
emotions as one might guests to a wedding, each of them
blindfolded, feeling their way into the chapel to listen,
then toward the buffet to eat. And sometimes I’ll write on black
paper—the letters glinting, barely detectable, deterring my desire
to change things—then tilt the paper at noon to read it.
And sometimes I’ll toss the empty pages into the fire
at dusk and speak to them as one would to a child, or
a ghost ruining the sky, then only what I wake to
in the old morning will I remember.
Mark Irwin’s eighth collection of poetry, American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987- 2014) was published in 2015. A Passion According to Green will appear from New Issues in spring of 2017. He has also translated two volumes of poetry. Recognition for his work includes The Nation / Discovery Award, two Colorado Book Awards, four Pushcart Prizes, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, NEA, and Wurlitzer Foundations. He is an associate professor in the PhD in Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles and Colorado.