Sir/ Ma’am: (I’m never sure)
Today, you said, I’ll dole out bits of words,
snippets of ideas. And you’ll be grateful.
And I am grateful, dragging my fingers
over the keyboard, twitching here or there
in vain hope that some metaphor
will drape herself seductively on the mattress page,
pouting her carmine lips, daring me to clothe her,
daring me to slide into the poem beside her.
Not, you said, good enough.
What you’re giving me grates on my nerves
like lemon rind, or maybe parmesan.
It stings; it smells. I’m listening, really I am,
dispensing with whole harems of image
in favour of the hunter, the camouflaged watcher,
stealthy and blind, waiting for the imitative
gabble of flocks of words alighting
on the white expanse.
Why not just retire? you shouted, You
have no artistry, no talent for the new.
You stood there, shredding what little symmetry
had settled on the page. I fumbled with the fragments:
my lovely metaphor reclining, my fleeting words.
I can hear you laughing at my numb fingers
assembling this poor mosaic, mocking my efforts,
But understand that this not a resignation, just a reminder
that I’ve worked here more than 30 years
and you haven’t won yet.
Hugh Anderson lives on Vancouver Island which seems a pretty solid place in a world no longer certain of reality. Recent publications include The Willawaw Journal, Panoplyzine, Vallum, 3Elements Literary Review and forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review. He has one Pushcart Prize nomination and a Best of the Web nomination.