after Lu Chi (261-303)

Sometimes your writing’s a soft tangle of subtleties
undercutting one another, blurring the paths
and you arrive at a washed-out bridge or rockslide.
Leave it. Don’t try to end what’s finished.
The well-aimed phrase is a whip, your poem a horse,
stamping and snorting and straining at the bit.
He wants to win as much as you do, and the whip
will serve better than a web of fine thoughts.
Just make sure you know when you’ve won.

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