for david lehman
I woke up this morning feeling
incredibly Gorky. So I made an appointment
to see my Doctorow. He said my Hemingways
looked a little swollen and sent me to
get an M.R. James and a complete Shakespeare.
By that time, I began feeling a slight Trilling
in my Dickinsons and some minor Kipling
in my left Auden. The entire experience
was extremely Dickey.
I was referred to an H.D., who asked
about my cummings. She detected traces
of Plath in my Sextons and suggested
I might also have some Updike
trapped in my Yeatsian system.
She recommended that to keep Orwell
and prevent inflammation to my Balzac,
I elevate my Flaubert once a day.
NON-POSSESSION IS ONE-TENTH OF THE LAW
Do not travel over vast distances.
Stay home and contemplate your neighbor,
the old woman who roams up and down the street.
She can never remember who you are
or who she is, for that matter.
This way, you will protect
your precarious sense of self.
Ruin your appetite before dinner.
This will ensure that you'll never feel hunger.
Play the same tune over and over,
driving everyone else crazy.
This protects you from unpredictability.
Find large articles of clothing
and wrap them around the trees,
so you will be as one with nature.
Fill your shoes with rocks
to ensure a suitable measure of gravitas.
Hide precious items from yourself,
then forget where you have hidden them.
This will promote non-attachment to things.
Make yourself dizzy by spinning around
so that the world will seem more steady.
Put all of your chairs in one room.
Sleep standing up. Move the refrigerator
into the bedroom and at night read
by its light. Rub with things,
not against them. Use pain to distract
a sore spirit. You will then be dreamier,
full of strength, able to bark at stars.