Jorio: Terror of the Blank Page

Again the blank page
Taunts me, chin outthrust
Like a bar-room drunk.
‘Call yourself a writer?

‘What’s the matter? Scared,
Are you? Go on,
Stick one on me
Now. I dare you –

I know your type:
Talk the big game,
Always starting, never finishing,
Wanting to have written.

Time you got real:
You’ve never mastered me.
I’m stronger than you
And always will be.’

Something in me snaps –
Bam! – I let fly
With a Petrarchan sonnet
Right on the nose:

Up from the basement –
Pow! – a crunching shadorma
Straight to the jaw,
And the blood leaps:

Press home my attack
With an ABAB rhyme –
Wham! – it staggers back.
Gets ‘em every time.

It’s not done, jeering –
‘So where’s your novel:
Airport blockbuster, Times bestseller,
Five-book deal, movie rights?’

Go for the kill:
Unleash the double sestina –
Take that, left-right, one-two –
Snarling, ‘Want some more?’

The page spits teeth.
‘Nice try. But just
You wait. Tomorrow, I’ll
Be here again. Waiting.’


Where would I be without Ina? Well, I wouldn’t be here introducing my first jorio, that’s for sure. Having opened my eyes to the magic of shadorma already this week, she’s now got me into jorio – what my dear friend Christine over at journeyintopoetry calls ‘four-square poems’. Which they are: no rhyme scheme or metre, just four lines with four words per. (I’ve cheated ever-so-slightly in a couple of stanzas: in Word, hyphenated words count as one, and that works for me.)
We writers all know the terror of the blank page, and as someone who writes for money as well as for love, I experience it every day. It was a lot of fun taking one back with this piece, but I know it’s a fight I’ll face again. And again. N.

4 thoughts on “Jorio: Terror of the Blank Page

  1. Bravo Nick, that is a really great jorio 🙂 I like the way the story unfolds and how you beat the empty page! It even spits teeth! 🙂

    It can be scary not to be able to think of anything to write, I know, esp. when bills are piling up, but there always will be something on the other side of midnight. Always!

    I hope you will find more poetry forms to enjoy and thank you for reminding me of the sonnets! 🙂 x

    • No, thank you, Ina – I had so much fun with this. I can see myself writing a lot more jorio, and shadorma, too. After 15 years as a pro writer, the fear is as strong as ever, but you’re right, something always turns up, even if it’s at the eleventh hour. ‘The other side of midnight’ is a lovely phrase: there’s a poem in that, for sure. Thank you as always. N.x

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