Novelists

Theirs is a trade for egomaniacs,
People whose parents did not love them well.
It’s done by wasps and women, Jews and Blacks,
In every isolation ward in Hell.

They spend their workadays imagining
What never happened and what never will
To people who are not and whose non-being
Always depends on the next syllable.

It’s strange, and little wonder it makes them so
Whose lives are spun out talking to themselves
In allegories of themselves that go
Down on the paper like dividing cells

That form in communes and make colonies
And do each other in by love and hate
And generally enact the ceremonies
Intended to harmonize freedom and fate

Among the creatures and in the writer’s soul.
The writer’s soul? It’s as if one abyss
Primps at the other’s mirror and the whole
Shebang hangs fire while the lovers kiss.

- Howard Nemerov

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