Sonnet:I think continually of those who are truly great

I think continually of those who are truly great
Chinese poets, or might have been had they not been
born somewhere else, in some other time, wanting
but not wanting to be Chinese, to float tiny little
poems out onto tiny little streams and then get drunk

as a skunk, hours into the newest of new milleniums.
I think sometimes of those who are always left out
of my thoughts, the ones I find it hard to imagine—
their pleasures and miseries, their songs and their sufferings.
I sometimes think it’s almost enough to have thought
of them, but then that peasant behind the door,

the one with the sledgehammer, raps me on the ankle
with it just hard enough to say, “Hey, I’m still here, you
bastard. Just because you read Chekhov doesn’t mean
you’re better than I am. You don’t even read Russian.”

Halvard Johnson

Halvard Johnson, who lives in New York City, is an equal-opportunity sinner with a slight skew towards envy and sloth.

If you’ve any comments on this poem, Halvard Johnson would be pleased to hear from you