He stopped in my office one afternoon and began asking the kinds of questions I had always hated. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Where would you go if money were no object? What are your three favorite books, your five favorite songs, your ten best memories? What do you think of the current political situation? Why do you write poetry?
moonlight my reasons unreasonable
I told him I had a lot of work to do and couldn’t talk right now. A little while later I made a trip to the vending machine to get a Snickers bar. He was standing in front of it, trying to decide between Pop-Tarts and Hostess Cupcakes. I made a face. He shrugged. “They’re both terrible, of course. But if you were starving, which one would you choose?”
“I would choose Snickers,” I told him, and retrieved my change from the little hole at the bottom of the machine. I had to ask him to move in order to retrieve my Snickers. Somehow I got my hand stuck in the flap when I was pulling it out, sort of like those monkeys who get their hands caught in jars because they refuse to let go of the banana. I refused to let go of the Snickers. But I finally got my hand out anyway.
He didn’t say a thing.
what’s in between the root and the flower downpour
Back in the office, I opened up Word and started a new document. My Favorite Books. I couldn’t narrow it down to fewer than eighty. Another one. My Favorite Songs. Oh, please. Forget it. Now that we all have iPods we all have five hundred favorite songs. Another one. My Best Memories. I could only think of four. Memories are overrated.
the way birds start singing when you aren’t even thinking about them
I gave up on the lists and worked for a while on a spreadsheet that someone else wanted me to work on. It contained no useful information, but it looked really great. Then I made some phone calls and asked some questions with easy answers. No one appreciates difficult questions, people.
Why do I write poetry anyway?
tennis the ball never occupying exactly the right space
As I left the building he was standing by the entrance with an umbrella, which I never think of bringing. It wasn’t raining, but he held it over my head anyway. “How do you define poetry?” I asked him.
“I’ve given a lot of thought to that,” he told me. “Is this your bus?”
“I’ll just take the next one,” I said. “If money were no object, I would go on a tour of all the major mountain ranges of the world.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “I think you write poetry as a substitute for mountains.”
ten times ten is always one hundred secrets you never meant to keep