(An Ode to the Philadelphia Writers Workshop)
By Jonathan Bell
It’s Writing Workshop and it’s Tuesday night,
And I’m pushing my hand across the page.
Hoping that an idea comes to light,
Something that will spring from my mental cage.
Some fantastic, wild, and crazy nugget,
One with an amazingly brilliant plot.
Like two characters who just say “Fuck it!
We know we just met, but let’s tie the knot!”
Or maybe more of a setting, like work.
But one that is heavy on sensory.
Something that’s about a lowly sales clerk,
Who’s trapped inside a dispensary.
Or how about a page or two or four,
About the desperate look she had on.
In aisle three of the grocery store,
The moment she knew her child was gone.
So many things there,
Why not just commit?
Instead, I just stare.
I stare. And I sit.
I had an idea before,
Of a great character study.
But the essence of it’s no more,
And now my brain feels like putty.
I once heard, don’t write just to say something,
Instead, write because you’ve something to say.
At first all my thoughts were really pumping,
But now it seems they are all on vacay.
Now, on the other hand, I’ve also heard,
That one must write to get the blockage out.
So, I am stringing this out word by word,
Hoping that that’s what this poem’s about.
It’s just a simple little drill,
With one small justification.
Because you can’t just take a pill,
To cure writing constipation.
Seems like Rachel’s about to ring the bell.
“Ding!” (this part is just here for the meter)
Didn’t write a lot tonight. Oh well.
Maybe it’s best if I’m not a reader.
I’m being told to find a place,
One I can come back to later.
I wipe my hand across my face,
Fairly sure this is my nadir.
So hey, I guess I can’t write a ballad,
Not one like Michael Shapiro.
Tonight’s writing turned out quite pallid.
But at least the clock’s struck zero.
Now, one final thing…and that’s all,
Is that my feelings might be a little tender.
When Rachel finally asks you all,
What stayed with you, what do you remember?