Instructions for Writing

Listen, no matter how many winters pass,
the roads will only be covered if you drive on them.
If your father enters your poems again,

acknowledge with a new stanza or a turn of the page. 
He is only a ghost if your bedroom light doesn't turn
your rumpled work clothes into the shadow of a man.

If the sound of his voice doesn't keep crashing down on you
like a memory of the ocean, be thankful,
besides, you can't afford to drive to the beach this year.

Every Wednesday, make a pact with yourself
to write something, or help your mother go through his things:
broken Elvis belt buckle, Robert Frost poems copied out in magic marker.

Remember to go over everything, parents' tax returns from 30 years ago,
stuck caulking gun, water-stained car magazine  
and every MRI result left behind in the garage in a manila envelope.

Everything is source material. Be fearless. Open the letters
to the woman who wasn't your mother. The hidden books of skin
in the underwear drawer. Every raw face, every page after page

of screaming and leave them there. You aren't this poem.
This poem is folded back into the darkness of the trash.
All those heavy things, the black bag, taking shape.

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