Lady, this is already your lucky day.
Lucky for you that, when I was a boy,
my mother took forever in the grocery store,
stopping to chat with someone in every aisle,
and in the eternities while my mother talked
I learned to live another life inside my head.
Lucky for you that my friend and I recently had
a conversation about all the impulses
we successfully resist—the sudden, irrational urge
to swerve off the side of the road, or to fold
our bulletins into paper airplanes and launch them
at the minister, or to beat the woman
buying lottery tickets over the head with a 16-oz.
can of diced tomatoes. Why don’t we
do more damage—or more good? Our worst
and our best impulses are like the Powerball—
we keep buying the tickets, but we never hit the jackpot.
Lucky for you that, even this late in the year,
I’ve kept my New Year’s resolution
to be more patient in the checkout line.
Sometimes, in fact, I deliberately choose
the slowest line. I stand behind the old woman
who smells of cigarettes, whose shaking hand
will take forever to write out a check, because patience
is something I need to learn—especially
with two sons who are always late for the bus
because there’s something they can’t find,
or who send me back to the store
because there’s always something I’ve forgotten.
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
The frontispiece from Countee Cullen's The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929). Illustration by Charles Cullen. Click to enlarge. On...
Here's the poem I wrote and read for the student-organized International Day of Peace gathering in Bridge Square on Wednesday, Septembe...
In early August, the director of the Northfield Public Library, Teresa Jensen, asked me to write a poem to be displayed prominently in the...