Sunday, 6 November 2011


It is amazing how quickly a cup of coffee vanishes on a Sunday morning. Two cups even. Three. This is getting out of hand - out of hand, I tell you!

As I look around at the expectant stacks of Christmas cards just waiting to be written (cute ones, serious ones, funny ones), the tubes of wrapping paper so much like weapons against time ticking away, and lists and lists and lists of prospective gift ideas, I need to settle for a moment. Be in the moment. Just be. And so, another poem for y'all!

This one is from one of my greatest friends, Margie, who spent a lifetime teaching how to write fiction to Abercrombie & Fitch-wearing undergrads, myself included. She owns fiction, and has been published in many literary journals and publications, such as the South Dakota Review and Confrontation. She's also published a book called Dark Horse, which I've written about here.  Over the years we've kept in touch, and this poem she sent to me in the post (along with some autumn leaves from central Indiana), and it is on my wall here in my Cave of Knowing (aka my office/aka my little room where I write) where I can see it every day.


If I put some straw into the suitcase,
I'll always have a bed. Scraps of olive wood,
slow to light, dense, will burn all night.
Some hard pumpernickel for good gums.
A sad bundle of underwear. A leaf
dropped by a poor scrub oak to remind me.
It will be a long Monday when I go.
The alarm throbs inside me, the early news
is crowded with bodies returning.
I'm off to the front lines in the war to preserve
the privelege of myth-making,
the consternations of art, the nerve to think
the future and remember the past. Others
left their homes to sail and trek, to consort
with consorts and outsiders and so
learn the reaches of mankind's instinct
for survival. They breathed the fumes and ate
the stew. They lived amonth the heroic
who did not want to live another life, and if
they erred in creating bigger-than-life characters,
they broke bread with the unspeakable,
and that is worth something.

- Marvin Bell

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