In Augusten Burroughs' memoir Running with Scissors--which will make you feel better about your life--he writes of Bible-dipping: flipping open the pages of the Bibles, eyes closed, and flipping randomly to a verse or line, and letting that sentence be a guide.
Not being well-versed in religion, I flip instead through my own Bibles. A few months ago, I drank nearly an entire bottle of cheap good red wine, a gift from a friend, and lit candles, and put a PBS Fleetwood Mac concert on the VCR, and spread all my poems around me in a circle. They looked better on the hardwoods. Their lines, the floor lines, the angle therein.
I didn't know how to arrange them. I still don't. But I flipped through James Wright's Above the River, and found a line. It led me through the night.
Later, I sat next to Robert Bly at dinner in a noisy restaurant full of blue smoke. It was a poor seating arrangement, as we both have hearing problems. I told him of my James Wright dipping. Through the weak candlelight, he squinted at me.
"What was the line?" he asked.
"I don't remember," I said.
That was a lie.
Lately, I have been I-pod dipping. I set my blue jutebox to shuffle, and let whatever song it lands on say something about my life, what I'm feeling, what I should do. Often I cheat, push the skip button to the next song, then the next. Just one more, I say.
But last night, struggling to reach twelve pages (I only got to seven), I did not cheat. One more song, I told myself. It would tell me what to do, and then I would turn off the lamp and go to bed.
The song was Liz Phair's "Perfect World," which I didn't recognize at first, and then remembered. I used to listen to it all the time when I was a senior in college, with short hair and tank tops, writing poems in my basement room with my bathroom and shared kitchen (it smelled like muffins always), dreaming of the big time. It seemed always to be springtime, and raining, and gray. I stayed up all night. I wore bracelets. White Christmas lights gleamed.
The chorus kicked in and I knew:
Want to be cool, tall, vulnerable, and luscious
I would have it all if I'd only had this much
No need for Lucifer to fall if he'd learn to keep his mouth shut
I would be be involved
I would be involved with you.