I leave to the various futures (not
to all) my garden of forking paths. – Jorge Luis Borges
I shouldn’t doubt my feet know best.
“Leave it to us to find the way
to where you want to go,” they say.
The arguments begin. I test
various permutations lest
futures unknown create delay.
“Not now!” they cry. “It doesn’t pay
to think as much as you suggest.”
All I can do is rage and shout.
My feet insist: “No transcendental
garden ever flowered out
of time. Where you see two judgmental,
forking roads, we see three gentle
paths that form a roundabout.”
ii) My Right-hand Man
“Leave that cocky bastard piss outside!
It isn’t wanted here! It isn’t cool
to come on strong to strangers! You don’t fool
us in the slightest.” Christ! I’d only tried
to tap my feet! My buddy, doubting I’d
find a response, resolved to overrule
the guy: “A shame they threw you out of school.”
Way too slow to see these words applied
to me, the guy looked round and saw the cheer
where none had been. And when he’d understood,
you laughed out loud. And when he’d left, well, who’d
want a more lively display? It was clear
to everyone, impromptu dancing should
go hand in hand with knocking back the beer.
iii) To the Young Poet
Not many poets stand the test of years.
Now that’s a fact. I have but one lament:
they often face the charge, “a life misspent”.
Cry out your song! You’ll learn the cask of tears
it costs to advertise your hopes and fears
doesn’t affect your powers to invent.
Pay no mind to idle talk. Consent
to be the laughing stock among your peers.
Think of the sacred flame you keep alive.
As darkness falls, it struggles to survive.
Much faith and passion are required. Then,
as Dawn makes ready to indulge her lust,
you find your feet, in fourteen lines of five,
suggest they’re lighter than their weight in dust.
iv) A Late Developer
When I was a lad, I lived for sport.
I felt my natural habitat
was sky. But Mother gave the cat
nine lives, not me. I later thought
I’d like to be an astronaut,
no strings attached, and, after that
idea died, an acrobat.
This came to naught. The bug I caught
was one I picked up once I’d grown.
What if, instead, at a tender age,
I’d seen that feet, stuck on the page,
want but to fly? That I’d be prone
to help them, in my role backstage,
do as they wish? I wish I’d known.