National Poetry Month: Day Late and a Dollar Short

As usual, another National Poetry Month
come and gone,
and I’ve written exactly nothing.

Not exactly nothing, I suppose:
a lot of work emails;
Corrective Actions for employees who
refuse to show up on time;
some Facebook posts and Tweets
displaying my amazement or frustration
with some aspect of human existence.

But nothing poetic. Nothing I could
say took something of reality and
lined it out in a way that others would
deem worthy of attention.

And that’s just it, too. Nothing worthy of attention.

I could have been more aware. Then
maybe the words would have come to me,
and also some way to breathe the breath of life
into marks on a page.

Could have, but wasn’t. And so the usual fears,
the worry that something deep within,
the old well-spring, has finally dried up. . . .

This time is different. By now
I’ve seen this enough to know
that wonder and words
will return.

They will return.

Advertisements

Cat

Neighbor’s cat 40’ up the pine,
clinging to a limb.
I’m not afraid of heights.

The extension ladder rests
against the trunk.
Rung over rung I ascend.

The silent cat watches.
At the top of the ladder
I stretch my comforting arms.

Snarls and spitting hisses.
I descend, cat-less. A helper
should not be clawed and bitten.

They told me later the fire dept.
brought a bucket truck.
The cat felt forced to leap.

There should be
some deep lesson here.
Some poetic significance.

Is it bad of me that
all I could think
was catapault?

At the Crossroads Inn

Late night in a strange town.
What kind of town don’t sell booze
at the corner store?
Can’t get my mind off the
cold tapping of a limb
on the dirty window

and wondering if we ever grow out
of this incessant application
of the same fucking solutions
to the same fucking problems,
never solving anything, never realizing
the solutions are part of the problem.

Maybe even The Problem. I don’t know.
What do I know? I’m no deep thinker.

Not putting up with it for four more nights—
tomorrow I’m calling in a request
to have that damn limb cut off.

The book in the drawer
says to come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy
laden. Been told that all my life,
and tried it for most of it.
That promised rest don’t never come.
Don’t never come.

Starting to reckon there’s no one out there,
no one able to give rest, anyway.

Yellow light from the roadside
glimmers through window grime.
It’s not a sign of anything.
Nothing’s a sign of anything.

Return

blood-orange-moon

I always thought I’d return
one day, maybe after I’d finally

gotten things together
and had something to brag about,

some big story to tell—after
I’d made a name for myself and arrived.

Now it’s been 26 years
and of course I’ve nothing

much to show for it. A few
good gardens; the day I watched

a banana spider spin her web
from start to finish; that night

I spent sleepless and saw the moon
so large and orange and pretty

that I cried, wondering at it all;
a few lines of poetry strung out

on the pages of a life
still being written.

Sunday Morning with Hayden Carruth

Carruth_bright wings

Today I woke and tried
to write some poetry.
As usual the words
wouldn’t behave themselves–
I gave up writing
to drink mimosas
and watch the soft rain
bead up on the driveway,
run off into the yard.

It dawned on me that I’ve seen
a lot of news video clips
of the Middle East
and in nary a one is it raining.
A lot of dead bodies bleeding
into the sand, but no rain.

I don’t want to see it anymore.

The dead bodies, that is.
The rain I can live with.

After the rain stopped
I picked up your book and read,

“Bright wings disappearing,”
and it reminded me why

against all logic,
against my better judgment,
against the way of the world,
I still write my quiet lines.