I sat in frustration yesterday
and for too many yesterdays before that,
worried if the Joe who did
all those nice poems would again
warm the heart of the Joe
who was doing nothing but
warming this seat.
Bill Stafford never worried like that.
The old poet would stroll to his couch before dawn
and just cast his line into that dark stream
behind his eyes,
not caring if he reeled in a bullhead or a rainbow.
Bill was an angler of words
who knew enough to love the fishing
as much as the prize.
Not that he ever threw
any of those catches back
into the Stream of Subconsciousness
from where they came.
Why do I worry about the straightness of my elbow
when I cast my line,
or what type of tackle I’d use,
or whether the bait was just right?
Today I’ll just tie some string
to a safety pin and snug the other end of it
to a stick. I won’t worry if they’re biting
on worms or grubs or any bait at all.
Whatever hits the hook will be fine with me.
And that’s what I just did.
How many of you, like I am, are too often blocked from creating because of paralysis by analysis? The great American poet, William Stafford, addressed this in an essay in his book, “Writing the Australian Crawl.” This poem is about how old Bill taught me to “just write.” And that’s a lesson I believe is “just right” for all writers.