Writing Through Thoreau


I love Thoreau, but reading him is, in itself, a labor. I wrote a response to Thoreau’s essay on “Economy” from “Walden”, then discarded it. Another and another. Finally I let go of form and any desire to try to sound insightful, and I wrote this. It’s about my writers block if anything.

Food Shelter Clothing Fuel

He fixes his gaze on the soil

Muscles pull, muscles push

Songs to help keep pace

.Perform task

In my first draft I said enough. Why do I push and pull to force more? There is nothing more frustrating that leaning over my notebook, staring at an empty page.

When is my art a lie?

Have I fallen into Thoreau’s trap?

.Perform task


Forests like walls erupt in my mind

I can no longer see the far horizon

.Error .Task is incomplete

.Repeat task #1

Sometimes I type with my eyes closed. Let the words spill as they form. Sometimes nonsensical, but free. And I remember lying on the grass on a hillside under the inky black forever, watching satellites and shooting stars, surrounded by the wind whispering through the nearby pines. I remember feeling thirsty. Lonely but happy.

. . .

I’m sorry sir but this isn’t the correct form.

I’m sorry sir but you need a jacket to dine in this restaurant.

I’m sorry sir but after reviewing your application we have decided to pursue other candidates.

[this space intentionally left blank]

His nostrils wide

His eyes worried by flies

Lashed to the harness, lashed to the plough

Steam rising off of his broad back

With each step he disrupts the world

At the end of the day

He has shelter, food, his thunderous heart is his fuel

An old Navaho blanket in the winter

And on Sundays he runs in the fields like the colt he once was


Image is my edit of two photos: “Frustration” by Peter Alfred Hess, and “Shire Horse Under a Drag Harrow” by Martin Pettitt. Both images found in Google, licensed for reuse.


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