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Nothing to Write Home About

ISSUE:  Spring 1998

It’s a sunny weekday in May
and I have had a bowl of beef stew
and a cold bottle of beer on the brick patio,

but now I am indoors again
wishing I had something to add
to one of the ancient themes—

youth grasping at life and beauty,
for example,
in the face of inevitable death and corruption.

There is a slight breeze,
just enough to make the red and yellow
tulips sway on their stems,

but that doesn’t help me sing
of the human craving for immortality
despite the roaring juggernaut of time,

or the painful contrast between
the cyclical renewability of Nature
and man’s headlong rush to the grave.

I could take off my shirt
and lie down in the soft grass outside
which has just had its first spring cutting,

but that would not result
in a record of the longing for eternal beauty
not to mention the despondency

that follows the drying up
of the ornate fountains of creativity.
So as far as the great topics go,

that leaves only the poignant contrast
between exuberant maturity and barren decline,
a subject which fills me with silence

and leaves me with no choice
but to pass the rest of the day
under the ivory governance of the piano,

sniffing my jasmine plant
and picking out with my index finger
the melody notes to “Easy to Love,”

a song in which Cole Porter expresses,
with put-on nonchalance,
the hopelessness of love

that brims with desire and
the need for adoration,
but is faced with frosty, though polite disregard.


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