How to Do Nothing


How to Do Nothing

First you must wash the window to observe more clearly
the dandelion seed heads bobbing in the wind. Next,

announce on Facebook and Twitter that you will be offline
for the next two days, if not forever. Heat water for tea.

Remember the bill you forgot to pay, and then cleanse
your mind of all regret. Consider industrial solvents

and the smoothness of sand-scoured stone, the miracle
of erasure. Eliminate all thought, but remember

the water. Hitch a ride on a Miles Davis solo and float
away on a raft of bluesy notes and lions’ teeth,

and wonder how to sabotage your neighbor’s leaf blower,
but nicely, of course. She’s a widow with a gun.

Now it is time to empty yourself. Close your eyes.
Become a single drop of dew on a constellation of petals.

Evaporate, share the bliss. Stuff that dog’s bark
into a lock box alongside the tapping at the door,

the phone’s vibration, the neighbor’s rumbling bass,
and the nagging, forgotten something that won’t

solidify until three in the morning, keeping you awake.
But don’t ignore the whistling. You must steep the tea.
* * *

“How to Do Nothing” was published in Volume 4 of Steel Toe Review, available for purchase here.


steel toe

109 thoughts on “How to Do Nothing

  1. Pingback: It takes time… > 70yrs but – I can do this | On Happiness

  2. Pingback: How to Do Nothing – carouselclub2017

  3. In spite of today’s humid heat, hindsight suggests I’d’ve been better off had I read this poem earlier and focused on the tea kettle … or perhaps I’m reading it this afternoon to better plan tomorrow?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. i want to do nothing more often. i am actually very skilled in it, i can actually appear dead; but i don’t live in the right culture for doing nothing & the guilt far out weighs the will for me. If people around you won’t stop it is difficult, until your energy just gives out, to justify to yourself the choice to do nothing.
    But i plan, once i get to 80, to spend my remaining years smoking everything, drinking heavily & swearing at the occasional young person who tells me to stop ranting at squirrels; this will be a form of doing nothing. O & there will be drooling, for no other reason than to look like a disgusting old man. & hopefully disciples who’ll flock to learn the art of poem from me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This doing nothing business is hard work, and I’ll probably keep trying to do even after I’m buried, tho that will likely occur in the form of willful decomposition… Drooling is messy (I’ve tried it), but cursing is quite rewarding, even if you are your only audience. As for smoking and drinking, I know which camp I’ve fallen into, although in my youth it could have gone either way… I dunno nuthin about no disciples. Mostly, I talk to insects and feed the birds. No one else around here pays attention.

      Liked by 3 people

      • i like swearing.
        i miss smoking, very much. If they sold rolling tobacco in Korea, i would probably still smoke.
        i used to talk to inanimate things all the time, till i met my wife & she asked why i talk to everything & trying to explain why i came up with nothing & it sort of fizzled out. Now i have the hound who listens very well.
        i had a friend whose father on getting old said he was very much enjoying it, he could play the senility card & enjoyed watching people trying to cope with a senile man, which he thought hilarious.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I still converse with inanimate objects, and of course the dogs! An uncle who has suffered several strokes enjoys speaking gibberish to people, especially those who’re aware he’s had strokes. We’ve had some very interesting public conversations in which he talks nonsense and I reply in poetry. I’m not quite sure what listeners think…

          Liked by 1 person

          • When i lived in Manchester there was a fella who sat every day at the bus stop ranting & singing. i bought him a milkshake, which he often drank & sat next to him one day & asked him why he sat here every day. He told me he once had a visitation by an “angel or alien”, a bright light which came down & told him to “make people happy by singing to them” & that he sat there doing just that & hoping the being will return. i used to sit next to him often & have a cigarette with him, take him a milkshake & ask about his day, He was clearly ill, but he could speak to me coherently enough,. It is very interesting what good can come of engaging with ill people, regardless of how odd it appears to others, they don’t deserve to be cast out or ignored, but met on new levels.

            Liked by 2 people

  5. Loved it!! Favorite bit “Hitch a ride on a Miles Davis solo”. I agree with “Death to leaf blowers” (and weed whackers) not there misguided users, however. I could use this poem to reach a meditation class. My feeling is, it’s better to do nothing with intention than waste time doing pointless things dictated by others..

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loathe leaf blowers, and love my industrial-strength weed whacker, but only in the country, where it is a useful, much needed tool. Here, in the city, not so much. And we’re in agreement about the pointless things dictated by others. That is truly pointless waste.


  6. ha ha ha sounds exactly like a beginning meditator … couldn’t have written it better myself … then comes the craving to meet a friend, a refrain of useless jingles resonating in your head … takes months of persistent effort to actually find the quiet, good luck 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: How to Do Nothing – SEO

    • Thank you, Dianne. I haven’t announced it yet, but I have a chapbook coming out in the fall. Pre-publication sales start next week, and I’ll post something either Monday or Tuesday. 🙂


  8. Your ” Do Nothing ” is great, a real treat to read. You really are trying hard……but all these interruptions.:) what to do? At least you have steeped your the in a beautiful pot.🦋😉 .

    It was lovely to see your Gravatar on my blog 🌻 , thanks for your like.

    Liked by 1 person

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