Another Day of It
It starts early these days – no alarm clock is needed.
First things I hear are the outside sounds coming in –
blue jays and squirrels scratching, scurrying, squawking
wanting their breakfast, the handfuls of peanuts we
toss out for them, and our human neighbors do their
share too, going to work, opening and closing their various
possessions, talking in stage whispers. It starts early
this hill of hours to climb, this ocean of words to cross,
to swim, to paddle, to get over, then thereÕs this endless
string of ideas going nowhere, ideas to trip on, ideas to
choke on, this endless game I play to make the day seem
shorter and not wasted, winner and loser IÕm sitting here
in my own dugout, the catbirdÕs seat, this dunceÕs chair.
As I said, it starts early these days, for some reason it gets
me up, makes me go through the motions, makes me make
these shadow puppets on the wall over my desk, makes me
make them dance and whirl, they Punch and Judy my morning,
give it shape without meaning. It starts early these days and
continues on day after day this way: early, late, somewhere
in between, I know IÕve seen it all before and will again.
While hope hangs in a nearby closet
awaiting its relevance, charity hangs
out on the corner, open, public, hand
out, demanding attention. His sign
scrap cardboard, poorly written, poorly
inked ÒGod BlessÓ and his various needs,
needs we all recognize as the same ones
we would feel in his place. His place he
knows fits the seasons, fall now and soon
will be winter, one form of cold for yet
another. HeÕs out there, while his two
companions, faith and hope have found
suitable shelter, ready to be pulled out
when needed. HeÕs out there, hand out
vaguely remembering Paul saying that
he/they would remain forever, but he
confuses his place in the mix, the greatest
Paul said and then left him to this. Another
car goes by with nothing – he gives them
the finger and says his form of amen aloud.
I remember those Saturday matinees.
Those were the days, double features,
monsters, gangsters, various war stories,
more action than our imaginations, our
lives needed. So many ways to be heroic
somewhere else, or victims, the villagers,
the corpses they created and tripped over.
We gathered, lined up even, rain or shine,
whatever our weather could invent for us.
Thirty-five cents and we were gone, three
hours, maybe four hours at a time – whole
afternoons devoured by what Hollywood
thought of our world, our lives. It would be
getting dark sometimes when we rushed
home being pursued by things left over
from the movies weÕd watch, caught up in
our escape until we were at home where
our own very real dangers and monsters
were still waiting for our return.
ItÕs always great when we finally finish, lean back,
think back to the beginning, survey all weÕve done,
accomplishments and setbacks, things we would do
differently if we had only known, things we will do
differently if ever have to do this again. ItÕs odd how
we finally get good at something just as it ends. We
gather together the things we used to do the job, place
them carefully where they will be ready next time, if
a next time ever comes. Then we might/can wash up,
literally and/or figuratively wash away any dirt the task
left on us. After that we might/can step outside, away
from it all, take a deep breath and begin to wonder what
weÕll need to do next and what it will demand of us.
© J. K. Durick
Bio: J. K. Durick is a retired writing teacher and online writing tutor. His latest writing project is writing a poem a day during what seems like this endless pandemic – itÕs in the two hundreds now. His recent poems have appeared in Literary Yard, Black Coffee Review, New Feathers Anthology, Synchronized Chaos, Madswirl, and Highland Park Poetry.