I go to the reading, confident that an occasion to read will force me to do the one thing I'm having the most trouble with these days: finishing anything. September 11 is smeared all over everything and I'm supposed to talk about it. Talk about that? Impossible. It's seeping into me through all the secret openings, working its way through my system and I'm processing in unexpected ways. When it leaves me, it goes out the back door.

So what do I say? I talk about form and order, and how I find that everything I'm writing these days is somehow girded to an intricate substructure. Tie content to rule and somehow the world will make sense.

When Elissa's father died, she wrote volumes of haiku. The only way she could comprehend anything that was happening to her was to deal with her emotions in 23 syllables. Break it up, pare it down, work it out.

It's not quite as simple a correlation as this for me. I'm finding myself creating a lot of forms in order to fill them. Setting up my own rules to order my own words. Improvisation around my own constraints. See the three short poems in my roster. Examples of how things go in these times.

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