For Wallace Stevens

The upside, you think,
is that you will be
able to say that you’ve
been here before.

Like the Emperor of
Ice Cream did, sitting
behind his desk, dreaming
of writing poems instead
of policies for policies.

There are more ordinary
things on your mind than
you ever expected. Balance
sheets balance the lofty
expectations that dangle

from every cubicle shelf.
You will be able to say
that you’ve been here before,
you’ve fought the good fight,
treadmilled the long race.

You’ve done something. You’ve
contributed. You were praised.
And you will scribble your way
out of it, late at night while

your spouse sleeps, for you bought
this quiet moment with time
you used more conventionally,
but with all the same discipline.

Crunching numbers and counting
syllables? All the same,
all in all. Stockholders?
Readers and critics?

Not much different, at least on
first glance. But then–neither
are you. Though this late night
at the kitchen table, upon keener,
closer inspection, somehow must be.


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