Over-Easy Eggs, A New Year’s Poem

I used to think Hope was some new vison you could wake to,

a morning without rain, an acceptance letter in the mail.

I believed it to be something small,

something that stopped a discouraging routine,

wiped down the breakfast table of depression,

something delivered like over-easy eggs to that table

by a force beyond my ordering.

All I had to do was sit there and wait

for any kind of good luck to be delivered,

and eventually it would be.

I liked the idea of that so much I’d cross the street

for eggs benedict once a week

and while eating it in the restaurant,

gaze out through the window and back across the street

to my modest studio apartment

and think to myself this is how Hope would look for me:

while devouring hollandaise and burnt coffee

and looking at each window of my apartment building

and thinking he’s got to be in one of those.

And I’d probably still be doing that,

if I didn’t know that in some form

this is what all displaced poets with MFA’s dream about

when they are not able to give back to society

with the words that have emboldened them

and made them self-certified experts on

how to find the golden thread inside failure and pull it.

Well, that dream ended imperceivably,

when, after years of my phone not ringing

and nobody coming to my door,

I found myself working at a gas station

of downward mobility I told myself I’d never work at,

in order to get my ex to stop bothering me

about not being able to get the book published

or find a university

or high school job teaching poetry.

A prolonged period, and by prolonged, I mean decades,

of not knowing if you can afford to put food on the table,

while in service to literature

and its power to cut through the yolk of the mind

for a kind of enlightenment,

has a way of closing Hope’s aperture and making it harden,

and why now Hope is something this Gen. Xer

with five lifetimes of student loans to pay back doesn’t wait for,

but employs.

Now, I order the Hope in me to float above itself

in order to watch the poet sit at his desk each morning

before he goes to a work that still barely pays

the always fluctuating bills,

still barely puts food on the table.

Floating up there, Hope tells the child in me

who always wanted to be that poet,

that getting all discouraged and drying up in imagination

and attracting flies of self-loathing

while sitting for too long in front of the television

whose channel guide counts on your disgust to remain one,

is part of the process of becoming a poet.

That break with convention always makes me feel

like I’m a beginner on a kind of journey,

like I’ve got my backpack on, and I’m just starting out,

that no matter what I’m cooking up,

a way to be stable,

or a way to still feel like part of the world,

I’m cooking it just right.

And that, like the single, first night goer

who at midnight looks up

from a street corner he doesn’t need to leave his house to stand on,

in order to watch the fireworks in his memory of them

before the new year comes disappearing down,

I can vow to stand beside myself and hold my own arm

and even look into my own eyes,

as I kiss myself back and think to myself let’s start over

and do nothing again.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s