Wednesday, February 27, 2008


It’s where the words that matter fall.
Cursive enigmas and incomplete thoughts
simply will not wait,
will not be consigned to a slush pile
of unsolicited ideas.
They demand hearing.
Phone numbers lacking names,
a list of conjunctions,
and notations about doctors’ appointments
are wedged above the perfect response
to your wife as to why you do indeed “get it.”

A story idea—
a mad Russian anarchist falls in love
with a nun whose mother practices Wicca—
lurks beneath your latest poem:
I was waiting
for your hair
and your shadow
to fall
across my chest
like a sunset
at the base
of Kilimanjaro

And then there are the lost moments,
the random phrases that were apparently your life
last year or the year before,
all rendered in blue and black ink
pressed into a yellowed page:
lily of the valley
Jane S.
sunflower thankfulness
meat loaf
paraffin wax
Seinfeld tonight
say nothing


You take out a library book by Kafka.
That night, insomnia turns the pages
until you see there’s always hope
scribbled near a paragraph indentation.
You close the book and sleep,
dreaming that life is a long thin column
waiting to be filled.


Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

It’s where the words that matter fall.
Cursive enigmas and incomplete thoughts.... (Love that line).

Blindsight, Billy; you've described the experience I have re-reading past journals
Don't entirely grasp this but it'll lurk in my subconscious.

PS The red things were stealth daleks. The other red things are Ferrari's.

Sandy Carlson said...

This is really something. Made me think of a comment from a friend, who used to borrow books from a city library that had suffered fire damage. The library was living off of donated books until it could rebuild its collection. My friend found herself more interested in the marginalia and the lives of the writer than the book itself. Your poem makes me think of all the ideas that inform a final piece but seem not to make it in directly.

Thanks for stopping by my blogs today, Billy.

Sarah Hina said...

Whole stories to be dropped, and picked up, in that sliver of space. I love the random sprinkling of words and phrases here. It's always most interesting to come back to something years later, and wonder what you meant. Like a little secret for yourself that you can no longer decode.

The ending stanza was a thin ray of light on this dark, cold night.

Janice Thomson said...

Oh yes, I love this and how true! I have come across scraps of paper and wondered what they meant, where did I use them or did I even use them or why didn't I and ofttimes I find I can use them now - interesting the little bits, partial phrases etc that make up our life.
Love the last verse - I have an old poetry book a previous owner had written in the margins and many times offered a different perspective...

Billy said...

Julie, I'm always looking back at things I wrote and wondering what frame of mind I was in since the pieces seem so alien years later.

Sandy, sometimes a few words might be more interesting or provocative than an entire book. And sometimes, I think, (yes, again :), they are synchronicities!

Sarah, yes, I suppose those little marginal notes are the ultimate flash fiction--stories in ten words or less -:)

Janice, yes, exactly. I come across scraps of paper or receipts with a note to myself and I throw them all in a box because they represent the past in such an odd yet concrete fashion. They are parts of my life, or even more importantly, what *could* have been my life. Learning tools sometimes.

Sandy Carlson said...

Thanks for stopping by, Billy.

Pete Seeger is a prophet, in my mind. I read a story about a Pew survey that said the largest movement of the faithful was from the faith of their childhoods to the no-religious-affiliation category. I believe there are many in the music industry who fulfill the roles of teachers and prophets. They are comfortable with unreconciled opposites, I think. And we all crave that honesty.

Billy said...

Sandy, Lightfoot is also one of my all-time favorites. He was a storyteller of the first magnitude, and "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is one of the finest examples. He almost died from pneumonia two years ago. I'm just a folkie at heart.

Charles Gramlich said...

Marginalia are often interesting for sure. I love to see the "notebooks" of older scientists.

Lana Gramlich said...

I also love finding things in old books--scraps of paper with phone numbers, names written inside covers, newspaper articles between pages. Fascinating stuff in old books.

Billy said...

Charles, I think the odd notations of scientists might be more interesting than the formal notes. We might see how they got to the discovery!

Lana, I think there's a book idea in this somewhere LOL.

Rob Hopcott said...

I liked this.

Margins are so direct, unedited, unfiltered - they communicate with the author but also with the author's readers and their random lives.

Billy, thanks for your kind comment about my postcard fiction ' My Perfect Lover'. I nearly got into trouble with my wife over that one. I was researching I'd got my facts right through a search engine and she looked over my shoulder and read the key words I had entered which gave entirely the wrong impression.

Also, may I say, Billy, you have a very erudite group of commentators visiting your site. Their comments 'in the margin' are quite fascinating :-)

Billy said...

Rob, thank you so much for so many kind compliments. Much appreciated. I'll be back! Glad things worked out with your wife :)

cargwaps said...

Brilliant! My god. I love this poem. you expressed it beautifully - the memories, the unspoken, the nonsensical, and the all to real moments that exist along the margins. I love your writing. *rubs hands together in glee at the thought of reading on* :)

Billy said...

Thank you, cargwaps. I do hope you continue to drop by, as I will to your blog -:)

Crafty Green Poet said...

this is excellent, I love the stories that can be told in the margins and you tell this one so well too. Thanks for visiting my blog

Bernita said...


Billy said...

Bernita, thanks as always :)

Billy said...

Thanks for reading, Juliet. I always find margins fascinating!

Jo said...

Thanks for stopping by my site florescence (I say that because I can't log on in wordpress here) (and thanks to for leaving such a lovely comment).
I really enjoyed this poem, profound, intelligent, wonderful. I'll be back.

Billy said...

Jo, thank you for such a lovely comment and the blogroll. I will add you to my links as well!!!