Sunday Poems XIX

My back is in spasm. This means that almost everything I do makes my lower back scream what feels like a request for a radical corpectomy. I pulled something a couple of months ago and a few days ago a slightly non-ergonomic twist in my spine, as i was lifting something relatively light, has me on muscle relaxants laying on the floor with my legs in the air, performing the stretch which provides the most relief. I am reminded of the ways in which our bodies are not infinitely strong. Certainly this realization goes along with ageing; certainly this realization is affected by how well we take care of ourselves. A lot of how we end up is chance though—and genetics (and circumstance). Good habits only get you so far.

A few lines from Seneca’s “On the Shortness of Life” swirling in my head:

“You are living as if destined to live forever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overwhleming supply—though all the while that vey day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.”

When we look at our lives, what do we see as an act of God? Certainly if we’re a certain kind of religious, rather a lot of our life feels like this. For the rest of us, we decide what choices we take responsibility for, and what we decide was chance. Poetry and Law are similar sorts of operations; if you believe that reading and understanding poetry needs a justification, this is one.

Sundays are good days to lose your cellphone (it’s probably underneath the couch cushion) and decide you won’t worry about it. Leave it under there. It’s gone. When your roommate comes home they can call it for you. It will ring. It will turn up. You can spend the day sitting around drinking tea unaware of your phone. Some music. You remember to water your houseplant. You pull a book off the shelf. Maybe you cook your meals for the week (I always admire folks who do that). If you have room for it, try sitting down with the poem below. I think you’ll like this one. As always, I’m here if you need to talk. When was the last time you wrote a poem? Maybe this is the week for you to try again yourself.

major consideration


of time

application of
blackboard paint


after school

wandering around downtown
at the edge of spring
on the fence

a postmodern novelist
on the shoreline
of the prairies.


making art
from imported sodas
and magic sandwiches
pulled from fridges
in downtown shops

we echo each other
“take me to the edge
of downtown”

parents urging us
“don’t be there
after dark”

what do they know
they chose
to be in the suburbs.


each other
in the park

there are five of us
and the sun starts to set
there are four of us

drawings become tattoos
reclining on our elbows.

we can see into the future

(i won’t speculate as to the accuracy
of our vision)

we can put our tongue on the future
and it’s warm enough
that we don’t get stuck.

This post was originally written on February 14, 2016 for Latitude 53, while I was their Writer in Residence.