We’re still lollopping in the dark
holding a gas lamp. Maybe we’d gone
too far? So is it cowardly to then
Too late you said. But I had whiffed
something unworldly, in this world of
poetry. It all depends, you said,
not wanting to be offensive.
God never meant poetry to be this
loopy thing, I said. But you had
cozied up to this task so well,
so you might as well.
I gave a little whimper. Not like
Mary Oliver, not like praise for
all things wise and good, yet
following nature’s counsel.
Wild nature, you said. Primitive
as knives you’d use for cutting
grass or pruning a Japanese bonsai
in a made-made paradise.
When’ll our last poem be, I’d asked.
When there’re no birds left, you’d said,
walking the way of Wallace through
forest to see birds of paradise.
“Write a last chance poem. The poem could be about having a final chance at something, whether it’s writing a poem, saying goodbye, or singing a song. Or it could be about a famous last chance that’s already occurred. Whatever strikes your fancy, this truly is our last chance for November 2016.”
It’s December, folks! I had just completed the PAD Chapbook Challenge. Just short of one poem, which I’ll get to soon enough I guess. When I do such daily poem challenges, the last poem always feels like a hurrah. I’ve done this kind of challenge often enough to feel almost like breezing through the experience. I’m just reporting how it feels like for me now. I’ve also thought often enough about when my last poem will be. When I’ve run out of things to say? But there’re always things enough to say, or to say the same thing in myriad ways. It’s like reinventing yourself almost. If you’ve done this kind of thing, you perhaps share the same feeling as me. If you don’t do this kind of thing then what I’m saying would probably mean not much.
You probably have another kind of schtick. Like dance, for instance. Dance isn’t my schtick since my hamstrings are too tight for doing it well, and my body’s too heavy. But I do it still anyway, for the fun of it. I get joy out of it. The line divides one who does an activity as an amateur and one who does it to practice a kind of professional competence. On this kind of scale then you may think you’re a failure. I don’t think of it as failure. I don’t think of anything as a failure if it’s something you do that makes you happy.
At the end of the day, we’re all in a quest for something. Like Alfred Wallace. He’s a British naturalist who founded the Wallace Line. It’s the line which separates the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts: a western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin, and an eastern portion where the fauna reflect Australasia. So hopefully your exploratory quest will lead you to create a thing of value, or even things of value. Wallace also came up with the idea of evolution but Darwin kind of robbed him of the glory of his epiphany. Shit happens. So if you’re a practicing poet with no financial reward for your work, think of Wallace who was poor and struggling with no regular income for much of his life.
Onward! 2017, here we come. The prompt? What’s your quest?