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A Poem: Unemployed Novelist on Skid Row 

Can’t see over curb.
Words feel like kryptonite.
Can’t spell, can’t think—
need best seller fix.
Mama, don’t let your kids
grow up to be writers.
Don’t even know what
a paragraph is anymore.
Couldn’t sell a book
if my life depended on it.
Out of answers, clues, plots—
can’t visualize sex scenes.
Mind is a blank.
I’m blocked like New York City.
On short list for Stupid Award.
Realize that long ago
somebody wrote my life story:
“The Idiot.”
Would sell apples
if I could find a good corner.
Couldn’t tell an interesting
character from a hole in the ground.
Brain jammed with clichés.
Wife would treat me like dirt
if I still had one.
Would move in with girlfriend
if I could afford one.
Would move in with
supposed friends (fellow novelists)
if they weren’t trying to
move in with me.
If someone doesn’t buy my book
I’ll jump off this building.
I guess you can’t kill yourself
jumping out of a basement window.
Why did I ever finish 4th grade?
Things are so bad
I think I might start writing poetry.

Fellow novelist slaps me in face and says,
“Snap out of it, man!”
Oh, sorry—don’t know what came over me.
“Yeah, pull yourself together.
I saw someone looking at your book yesterday.”
You did, where?
“Come on, I’ll show you.”
We hurry off stage.

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  • A poem by John Blandly.


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