I take my beanie off to Job,
That Biblical figure who had
The patience of a glacier.
Me, I have the patience of a gnat.
I roller-derby my way through life
With predictable results.
Maybe it’s time I calmed my farm
trod quietly through each day,
Just me and my tip-toe heart.
I thought I’d sit down with it
Knock back a few beers
Chew the cud of all those years
But I couldn’t get into it
I couldn’t be bothered
I just wanted to get out
No tears, no recriminations,
Start a new life
Go on perhaps my last adventure
A modest one but still.
The blossoms were out
And so was I.
I wasn’t over the hill
When people down the track
Ask me, how was it?
I’ll say, read this poem.
This is how it was.
As she lay in the hospice ,
cranked up by morphine,
she thought of Mr. Barnes
That little red rooster from her childhood days
In Battlelake, Minnesota.
That Barnes — he was something,
Puffed out his chest and walked through life:
“I want the biggest and the best and the most of whatever
He had attitude.
He had a harem.
One day when she was home from school with chickenpox
She watched Mr. Barnes
Fornicate with his hens forty six times and that was when
She was awake.
He was the sheik of Battlelake
Even strutting off to other farms.
That Mr. Barnes!
He thought the whole world belonged to him and beyond that —
The sun, the stars, the Milky Way — all of it
& as she lay dying
She hoped to meet him on the other side.
do you have a hero? what qualities do you admire in that person?
do you have an animal you admire, either in literature or real life?
Trains of thought have no timetables.
Nor, if they did, would they keep
Trains of thought always pull in when
you are busy doing something else.
They require no ticket, no payment
only that you get on board and leave
your luggage behind.
Trains of thought have their own itineraries
And take you places you may otherwise
Never visit. Bring a notebook with you.
Trains of thought run on the fuel of
Of which there are endless reserves.
The very long sentence in an effort to beat its predecessors ran on and on and on over fifty five and a half pages after which time it lapsed into a comma, then another, and another till semi-colonized by tedium it slowed right down; sighed; lurched to the left then came to an abrupt full stop.
what’s the longest sentence you’ve read or written?
do you enjoy long sentences? do you occasionally try them just for fun?
how long do you think a sentence should be? what are its natural constraints?
You know what happiness is? he said.
Contentment? I suggested.
Not even close, he said through the burnished orange of this late autumn afternoon.
Come on, he said. You know better that that.
Then what? I asked.
It’s not true what they say about cats, you know. That old proverb about curiosity killed the cat. It’s to stop you changing lanes.
You’re beginning to sound like a zen poet, I said. Like Li Po.
Become like a cat, he said. Go out into the world, cat-curious. You can never NOT be happy if you’re finding out things.
do you agree?
where is happiness found for you?
what is the chief impediment for happiness, do you think?
So where are you?
In a galaxy far far away.
No. Where are you really?
Isn’t that where …?
Yes, where Billy Pilgrim went.
That time traveller from ‘Slaughterhouse Five’?
Yes, he went there on his days off.
His days off? From where?
Reality. Reality bites, you know.
But what if you never came back?
Like Hugh Conway in ‘Lost Horizons’? Dorothy in Oz ?
Would it really matter? You’d be where you want to be. Would you even want to go back?
Have you a favourite fantasy place ? Which fantasy world would you live in if you could? What if you couldn’t come back?