Some time back I assured my readers that they wouldn’t have to read my own work.

I lied.

I mean, technically speaking, you’ve been reading my work on this blog thus far, right?

Someone very talented recently offered to read some of my poems if I posted them.  It really is time I stopped being such a ‘fraidy cat about it.  The last time I submitted was in college, and when I got a slew of rejection slips I stopped.  So consider this my cautious dipping of toe into the water.

And remember one thing, because it will keep you honest: A critic is someone who walks onto the field after the battle and shoots the soldiers who are still alive.  I think Anne Lamott said that.  Clearly she is a very wise woman.

Teaching, Said Mr. S., is Nothing More Than Witchcraft

(For Dad)

And with that he lit a match.
His face was all glowing with spooky smiles, and, well,
There was the light of the bonfire, too.
Term papers. And let me tell you –
There’s no smoke so acrid as loose leaf.
I heard him muttering softly, and though hard to make out,
I caught the words Gatsby and darkling and “rocking horse winner”.
Oh, I said, you must teach . . .?  And then,
His laugh was hideous, until
He returned to the lyric of his spell,
Leaping left and right ‘round the fire,
When – all of a sudden, I shudder to write this –
A little spark caught the cuff of one polyester’d pant leg,
Reducing the wizard, in the blink of an eye,
To a yelping – yawping? – pup.
And he ran off, I suppose,
To cool his skin in the snow.
Whose woods these are I think I know,
But his house is in the village.
In the year since then I’ve sold the piano.
If you had seen them haul the weight
Down two floors, where it perched above the sidewalk,
A queer black bird,
Suspended on wire.

I thought when you left I wouldn’t mind too much.
I thought I would find a new means
Of occupying my time. Instead of your bookshelf,
A rubber tree plant. I don’t miss the piano.

I don’t mind the space. A throw rug does wonders
Though I still step around the place where the bench used to be.
The girl downstairs made a card for your birthday
And she skips the thirteenth step,

Like you taught her.

The color I painted the kitchen would not agree with you.
I made a patch for the spot on the sofa.
You wouldn’t know this, you left so much behind.
Things I can’t change or paint or sell.
The place you touched your hand to when
Ginsburg died.
The bare spot on the floor that you paced into the wood,
Waiting to hear. 

On Coleridge

When the divine wind blows, there’s no stopping
Where it goes. So says the man in his armchair scheming,
Who puts pen to paper despite the interruption
Of his dreaming by a person on inconvenient business and with most
Inconvenient timing. Still, the Fragment makes it way onto the page,
Then pages, books, anthologies, bibliographies, biographies
Until it belongs to us entire (and we call this man a sage).
The same wind, what’s more,
Sunk the same Emperor’s fleet five centuries before,
On churning water. The men who stood upon the decks
Of ships that wrecked
Were unprepared to fight this sort of war
And died within a mile of the shore,
While the intended casualties of the siege looked on, and blessed
The wind. Kubla Khan, it seems, in his haste
To lay his enemies to waste
Launched flat-hulled river boats upon a sea
Made treacherous by an inconvenient wind.
It spelled the end of Khan’s excursions, sent him fleeing
To the safety of his dome, where he learned
To bless his home and curse the wind.

Not we, though, in our chairs, said he
Who launched a hundred ships into the wind.
We emperors of oceans making boats both frail
And fit. We loosen moorings, pray for wind to hale
These ships, these paper boats adrift
On endless seas.