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For Antonio Gamoneda

I wanted to write like Antonio
Gamoneda, so I went to León
and, after visiting the cathedral
to ask God to forget me,
I arrived at the poet’s house.
Maestro, I said, tell me,
reveal to me the secret of poetry.
I’m no maestro, just a dealer
of useless things.  And among these things
poetry is like a frigid
goddess proffering her gifs.
Can you imagine? If you want to write
like I do, write
and erase and write again.
Write like yourself, if you can,
or go to the melon patch and steal one
and go home to savor
the sweet lament of melons.
Writing comes before
not writing.  Therein lies the secret
that has nourished poetry both great
and small and otherwise.  And here
in León there is a cathedral
and a few bars where God
is always, while I write
here, whether or not I’m alone,
I don’t know, whether or not I’m alone.