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                                       Why I Can't Write

                                                                       – after Anne Barngrover

              ‘Because’ is not an answer, my daughter would say.

Because the black-capped chickadee’s high/low two note call

                                                                                                          pierces the grey morning.

Because the rush of wind outside the window
                                                                                 keeps me sleepy.

Because I am reviewing the days-ago conversation with the black barista at Starbucks­–

               was my slight impatience perceived as a microaggression?
               did I attribute his annoyance to his skin color?
               or was I afraid I was going to?
               is this just Pure-O messing with me?

Because I am panicking about the campaign texts I need to send later today:

Hi, Sharonda, it’s Frank, a volunteer with the Daniel Biss campaign. Do you know who
you’re supporting in the upcoming election?

                                                                             Shoot me.

Because on the maroon couch, under a matching blanket,
everything seems less…
and I could lie there staring at the perfect white ceiling
                                                                                                all day.

Because I recently told my therapist I thought I’d be really good at convalescing.

                         (because that’s a lie)

Because, walking past a construction site,
                                                                          the smell of cut lumber
brings me back to childhood with a Proustian rush.

Because “Proustian Rush” is an old Woody Allen joke
and repeating it, even to myself, feels dirty.

Because the windows only look out on a faux streetfront
from this downtown Starbucks.
Because there it is again – what is this? Corporate-sponsored poetry?

I can’t look at it squarely anymore, if ever.

Because there are collective-action problems
and writing is an individual-action problem.

Because on the walk to the office the homeless will accost me again,
and I will cross the street this time
                                                             to avoid the men
huddled near the heating vent

                                                              along the outside wall of CVS.
Because I feel guilty writing this.

Frank Hill lives, photographs, and writes in Evanston, Illinois.