At a certain point I stopped and asked
what poems I could write, which were different
from the poems I wanted to write, with the wanting
being proof that I couldn’t write those poems, that they
were impossible. What I could do
was different from what I wanted. To see this
was the beginning of work that could be work,
not simply pursuit after pursuit that was
bound to fail, yearning for qualities that were not mine
and could not be mine. Aiming for a muscular
logic that could be followed by a reader’s mind
like an old stone wall running along a landscape, I got
nothing so solid or continuous. The authority
I wanted dissolved always into restlessness,
into a constant gathering of images whose aggregate
seemed like things that had come to settle
inside a glove compartment. I had no faith
in my flaws, but I had a grudging faith
in the particular. There was the actual stone wall,
its mongrel irregular blocks harmonized into use, rich
and ordinary as a soul. There was the flea
that landed on my forearm one night as I sat reading.
The black speck of it, then the outsize sting.
The flea that is an insect, has no wings, can jump
vertically seven inches and horizontally thirteen inches.
The flea that looks, through the magnifier,
like the villain spaceship from a science-fiction movie,
that can live for years in good conditions, and lives
by drinking the blood of animals and birds,
in a practice that is called, by science, hematophagy.