how to write

by Anne Wald­man (from ‘the paris review’)

Per­haps I’m kid­ding myself about

the life I lead

Some­times I feel I’m dying

like a lot of things I see around me

Then I turn on the TV and understand

that every­thing must still be moving

Music, for exam­ple, and I rush outside

around the cor­ner to a concert

It’s so easy

Every­thing acces­si­ble from where I

hap­pen to live at the moment

Things like rock con­certs not too many trees on 2nd Avenue

Once, on the Sixth Avenue bus

I got a sud­den sensation

I had been alive before

That I was a man at some oth­er time


You would think this strange if you were a woman

If I were a man right now I’d be get­ting out of the draft

but I think I’d want to be a poet too

Which sim­ply means alive, awake and dig­ging everything

Even that which makes me sick and want to die

I don’t real­ly, you know

I just don’t want to be con­scious sometimes

because when you’re con­scious in the ordi­nary way

you have to think about your­self a lot

Dull thoughts like what am I doing ?

Uptown in a large crowd I want to sit down and cry

because every­thing is sim­ple and complicated

all at once

Every­one has this feeling

Even peo­ple downtown

It is very basic to the way we are

which is why I can say “we”

A lot of drugs can change you if you want

because you too are made of what drugs are made of

In fact you are just a bun­dle of drugs

when you come right down to it

I don’t want to go into it

but you’ll see what I mean when you catch on

That’s not meant to sound snotty

I’m open to what­ev­er comes along

This is the feel­ing I get before I take a plane

Then everything’s the same after­ward anyway

All into one space and here I am again

alive still, same wor­ries on my mind

The thing is don’t worry!

You are doing what you have to what you can

You hear from your friends

They let you know what’s hap­pen­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, Iowa

Ver­mont and oth­er places about the globe

They take you out of your lit­tle room

just like the news­pa­pers or the news

or the man you live with

and put you in a much larg­er room

one in which you are in con­stant motion around the clock


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