Written pages have no goals.
They sit, at ease, and converse among themselves.
Blank pages are still idealistic–
they cry out for change,
organize small, badly-planned page-revolutions
that always fall apart before the coup.
Written pages sneer at blank pages.
Yet at night when they’re alone,
written pages get worried looks on their faces
and confess nothing.
Blank pages deal in innocence.
Blank pages sometimes beg on the street
pitching made-up stories about needing to get to Chicago.
Written pages would never go to Chicago.
Written pages reside in New York,
or upper-class retirement communities in south Florida.
Written pages drink port in the evenings
or Cutty Sark, straight.
Blank pages drink 7up.
The poet turns blank pages into written pages.
Some pretend the transformation is not a betrayal,
and strive to convert
as many pages as possible.
Others regret it each time they fill a page
and do it only in weakness
(sometimes suppressing a moan).
play jazz music to their pages
try to get them
to drink Sangria
and move to New Orleans.
How to Be Poetry
“You gotta be poetry to write poetry,”
she says, cradling her hand around the uncertain flame
as she lights the tip of a cigarette.
I think she must be an epic poem,
everything bluster and drama:
a poem full of men with swords
and ladies on horses.
Today I wake up as a sonnet.
I dance through breakfast
all rhythm and rhyme
with a Shakespearean glint in my eye–
Later on the sky darkens
and I am haiku,
condensed, compact, folded in on myself,
and somewhat concerned with the weather.
About Norah Esty
A graduate of UC Berkeley, Norah Esty is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Stonehill College. She enjoys math, music, and poetry — not always in that order.
[Camera Obscura Image of Manhattan View Looking West in Empty Room] Abelardo Morell, 1996, digital image, Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Consolidated Natural Gas Company Foundation. http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=36795