All writers know that Ideas are either everywhere or nowhere; state of mind controls which. If I’m in a wondering-state, ideas pour forth seemingly out of the ether, and if I find myself stuck, they simply hide. This is when reading often helps. The other day I was reading the NY Times’s 125th Anniversary issue of the Book Review. In an interview with Colson Whitehead, author of the best-selling The Underground Railroad, he said he was working on a novel about Band-Aids. The mention of Band-Aids resonated with something I had been wondering about as I reapplied them to stitches from Mohs surgery, a procedure to scrape away skin cancer, I had had recently. Each time, I fumbled with getting the Band-Aid opened — the ultra-thin paper is difficult to manipulate. I thought, What happpened to the little red strings? You’d zip open the Band-Aid as effortlessly as breathing. Today I have started a lyric essay about Band-Aids

Even errors can fruit ideas. American poet Elizabeth Bishop once read a misprint in a newspaper; the word mammoth was misspelled as manmoth, which resulted in her poem “Man-Moth”, a dreamy creature who attempts to climb to the moon. I have a running log of my misreadings, which I consult when my idea well runs dry. I misread “kneel’ as “kennel” and came up with the line of a poem: We kenneled our fears, brought them leftover meats and water. Some of the misreadings are downright funny: heart lunch for heart lurch; slacker grammar for slacker glamour; interviewing the farmhouse for interviewing the famous.