Some people visit graveyards
to make rubbings of the gravestones they find there;
usually those of relatives.
They do this by putting a piece tracing paper on the stone,
then rubbing across it with charcoal or a pencil,
until they’ve reproduced the words of stone.
To be a poet, you need
to hold up a really big
piece of tracing paper to your life,
then rub it and rub it and rub it.
Then tear it up. Then burn
it. Then throw the ashes
into the air. Then watch them settle on the flowers,
the bodies, the blood, the dead,
dreads, red cars, blue lies, the
people you love, the one’s you
the pies, the cakes,
lust, sweet whiskey,
envy and ivy, cop and carpenter,
grocer and barber,
Sandinista, the jerk in the next car,
the girl you loved, the pine trees,
the bumble bees, and, at last,
the fast flowing river of spring that
carries them all far
from the sun.
Then, you must gather
the ashes back somehow,
and make pencils of them. Yellow
pencils that, when carefully
sharpened, you can use
to trace your life,
word by slow word.