Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Poet at Minimum Wage

I meet with a close inner circle of words,
a caucus of syllables.
We decide that the poet must embrace moments
that never gain promotion.
He must always work for minimum wage.

There is the phone call
informing him that someone has died.
He remembers a fly
buzzing grief through the wire.
He recalls rain sliding down the window,
the leafless tree in the side yard.

He makes love
and awakens several hours later,
remembering that the umbrella
is still open in the downstairs hall.
He thinks of a day years before
when he passed an old woman on a porch,
and her bones seemed to be made of papier-mache.

Moments of no consequence.
Once, a breeze stirred branches
that scratched the house and woke the cat.
There was a night when a cloud split in two
just as it passed the moon.

There is no greater moment
than when the second hand on a watch
waits for the next tick.
That is when the spider contemplates
spinning its web.
That is when the poet,
his eye trained on a falcon
hanging at apogee,
envisions his next poem.

(from 2004)

14 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Love this piece. Especially the idea of the time between the ticks of a clock.

I've added you to my blog links, to this blog. If you'd rather I link to your other site let me know.

Billy said...

Thanks for stopping by, Charles, and glad you liked the poem. And thanks for the link. This blog--chapter and verse--is fine and probably more logical since it is specifically about writing. The other is for off the wall ruminations. I've added you to my link list as well. You have a great blog.

Lane said...

A very fine poem.

Where would we be without the minimum wage poet who catches those tiny fragments and brings them to life.

Julie at Virtual Voyager said...

I'm with Charles on the ticking clock; love the close inner circle...
the breeze stirring branches - (reminded me of The Wasteland.)

Billy, this poem is like a box of Belgian chocolates.....with a lot of favourite centres!

PS - Can I ask what your Master's focussed on re thesis?

Sarah Hina said...

A love poem to those quiet inspirations that jounce the writer's memory at exactly the right moment. I just loved this one.

Something about the imagery of the cloud splitting in two as it passes the moon. I always "live" your poems, Billy. They burrow through the senses, and pluck that holy chord.

Marja said...

This is so beautiful and amazing and original. How you can build a an atmosphere with a fly buzzing grief through the wire and than the rain and the leafless tree. Excellent. I feel honoured that you visited my blog.

Bernita said...

Those are the poems I like best.

Billy said...

Lane, it's sad that poetry only accounts for about 2% of book sales. Poetry seems to live in journals and magazines--one has to actively seek where it hides. People read less (how sad), and poetry as usual brings up the rear. I'm glad you liked this one--I guess I've neglected poetry on this blog for a while.

Julie, with such lines like the "Belgian chocolates," you should be my agent! Thanks as always. My masters in English was on how the narrative point of view in the fiction of Stephen Crane reinforced his theme of naturalism. In education, I concentrated on reading and learning disabilities. Did a lot of work with dyslexia and ADD.

Sarah, your comments are as lovely as your prose. If a reader "lives" a poem, it surely makes the poet feel that the effort was worthwhile. I always thought the quiet moments of life were far more inspirational (and meaningful) than the more obvious parts of our lives. Thank you!

Billy said...

Marja, thanks for stopping by. I'll add you to my link list if that's okay. Thanks for the lovely response!

Bernita, thank you. I think the best poems focus on the moments we all look past, and maybe that's the job of the poet--to make sure we notice. I think the best poets manage to do this--my favorite in this regard is Billy Collins.

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Billy - thanks for the reply. My youngest has battled with dyslexia, but has the compensatory ability of spatial perception (doing Fine Art).
Didn't want to do a text biased degree. The uni he is in routinely screen for dyslexia among artists.

Billy said...

Julie, you're welcome. Good luck with the youngest. I'll keep a good thought. It can be difficult.

Jo said...

Brilliant......I'm going to blogroll you :)

Tina Trivett said...

Perfect visual. Moments in time captured on a slide.

Billy said...

Tina, thanks for reading so many of my posts. Your comments have made my day -:)