I found a book of poetry on the coffee table at the Ears, Nose and Throat office in Springfield, and borrowed it. Unless urgency insists I carry something to the house when I arrive at home, some items can get lost in the debris of cloth shopping bags, gloves, ice-scrapers and water bottles jostled on the car floor. Last night I found this book at the bottom and brought it in.
I should have been working on my annual News from Heart’s Content but inspiration eluded me. Should I write a poem again or write an essay? Does anyone really want to read it? (Every year I fear my efforts will appear flat and awkward.) Instead, I dipped into this collection and read for couple of hours. I woke with his rhythms whispering in my ear.
This morning I found the dam broken and words flowed onto paper as I tackled my year-in-review. Taking a break, I looked up Dave Russell online and discovered he died less than two weeks ago! How sad. I would have loved to tell him how much his writing means to me. It opened up a floodgate I thought was rusted shut. Someday I will gather all my poems and see if there is anything there; this book has encouraged me to try again.
By Dave Russell
April 1913 – December 12, 2011
Why do I waste time writing poetry?
Heaven knows I have important jobs enough. There is work to do and bills to pay
And the thousand things that fill the day.
Besides, nobody reads the stuff.
I’ll tell you why I waste my time
Trying to find a line to rhyme
Or a way to state a feeling so it gets across
Something from inside my chest, before it’s lost.
It’s just because it seems to bad to have
Sensation, grief, joy, or just a passing though
Come into being, give its bit to me, And then be gone.
I live within myself. I love, I loathe,
I fear, enjoy, anticipate, desire.
If I can put these yearnings and regrets
These memories, however fleeting
Into words, which some, it seems, cannot;
That others who in all respects resemble me,
But having felt a thing, or seen it,
Can read my words, and tell themselves,
“Hey, now. This guy thinks the same as me.
“He calls himself a poet. Maybe I’m a poet too.
“And maybe people who are poets
“Are human, just like me.”
When I see a surreptitious tear
Brushed away before it can appear
To show a sign of weakness to the fellows
Of some hard-bitten engineer,
Or when, in spite of bills, and worries
And sickness; trials of a hectic life,
I see a smile, or hear a chuckle, unaccustomed, Lighten up a moment for a busy, harrassed wife– The value of my time is amply paid. I’ve no regrets.