as to why I haven’t been doing it
I begin to wonder if I can walk again.
The details come back to me in retrospect:
an accident, perhaps a wheelchair,
perhaps an eternal afternoon on a couch.
But I can stand,
I reason to myself, and
the memory is equally clear
standing up to shave, or speak.
The mundane reality of the afterworld,
of life after the thing that happened.
When I was in the hospital I dreamed simply
of walking, waking to find myself on fire
with pain, tied down with tubes.
I wake needing to urinate.
I stumble to the bathroom
before realizing the mundane reality.
some famous people lived
before they were famous
or for a brief period
where they hid out from fame
and did ordinary things:
a slow dance to the radio
A bus rumbles by each day
on the last leg of a crosstown journey
stops before getting to Walgreens
a man picks up his backpack
which rested against the sign.
He’s working on it now, suffering
the classic symptoms of writer’s block,
or more likely a keener interest in Team Fortress II
I’ve inspired him with these great one-liners:
It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, but it does have to be in Monday, buddy.
Try writing a poem about writing a poem*
and that ever-helpful
Just write what you know.
*making this a poem about writing a poem about writing a poem?
But you’re the diffident one
who has trouble looking me in the eye
and we sit out back of my house
you smoke and get your throat down a half-step
(use a capo; you’ll live longer I joke)
and you go out there night after night on the road.
I slip a hundred dollar bill in your case when you’re not looking
And wish I had made more of myself.
The guests hadn’t arrived.
sounding concerned, because he wasn’t -
asking for the third time if he wanted coffee.
“It’ll just keep me awake,” he said.
“I’ll see everyone tomorrow morning.”
and I doubt anyone else remembers.
I sorted reeds today. No, really,
who would make up a thing like that?
Outlook has a nifty to-do list feature
and mine’s been scrolling off
monitors of increasing size since Windows 98.
About the reeds – some dated back to 1962
and were 25 cents apiece. Their faded
purple boxes spoke of bands long ago.
They’ve been waiting in boxes
since before I was born, waiting
for me to get to them.
Is the type of throat clearing
they tell you not to do in workshops – the coughing phlegm
of a lawn mower first cranked in spring, after priming the bowl
and yanking on the rope until your shoulders ache and
you sweat and curse, tired before any work is done.
One night this week I didn’t have to
grocery shop, go meet a group of hopeful strivers, or
fix a document the damn phone wouldn’t stop for all day.
takes something out of me. Most think it’s the screen time,
but I like the predictable blink of the cursor, the average
of the e-mail response time. What gets me is the relentlessness
of the vague: being switched away from a problem I was gaining on,
listening to someone for some clue one of us knows
what they’re talking about. Sleep doesn’t cure it. It’s like
being woken up 16 times a day.
They wrote as if engraved in marble,
and you, the always understood you,
reading the inscription in an elegiac field.
Great gift, to have their topic so determined.
To have that appearance of inevitability,
and the silent space in which to write it.
If it failed to grip it was still graceful,
uninterrupted. The long line of the work
went on, as in the Odyssey.
I keep finding you as a friend of friends,
or in the spuriously precise terms of LinkedIn,
a 3rd degree connection,
having added to your CV various
certifications which weren’t even around
in the days we worked together,
divided by a common tongue,
a so-called platonic attraction:
The ways we fit together broke down under the strain.
Much of this wasn’t true.
My truth is the lemon-scented shampoo smell in the lobby;
the then-stylish bob from which you’ve doubtlessly moved on,
on the head of an older woman in a tennis dress,
the sound of an urban English accent,
the taste for Shiraz I still have,
and tell myself it’s nothing
to do with you.