Poem: Beatback


horse 1.jpgBeatback

It’s all there. All the bits and pieces and parts,
representing at the first, not the thing
but the overwhelmedness of art not yet made,
not yet ruined by an errant word or stroke.

It’s all there. You know this. You have seen the magic
again and again, and know it is only a start away,
twenty short minutes away.
A nose to the Sisyphus stone away.

It is neuroscience. It is biology. A hard head
overcoming fog.
Solid things always do.
But not without work.

Not without faith.
Not without overcoming yourself just long enough
to change Newton’s third law into inertia
that cannot be withstood. all in the first persistent nudge.

You sip your coffee. It hits your stomach raw and hot.
It rebels for a moment then grasps the power of caffeine.
Eyes open.  It is showtime.
And God help anyone who stands in your way.

Even yourself.

About this poem

I wonder sometimes what happened to me. I was once that most obnoxious of the human species, the morning person. I woke up “all on”, ready to take on the day, my brain humming like a well-tuned machine. I used to laugh at my father who stumbled down the stairs bleary-eyed, in need of coffee to function.

Nowadays, I AM my father.  I fight to get going. Partially depression (Which, while he never copped to it, I am determined he too fought daily.), partially an aging body that needs to warm up in the morning, brain and all, I am laughable in the morning, hungry for that first jolt of coffee.

Everything puts up resistance. I have to make myself do stuff. It isn’t just instant and easy. Everything from writing my first poem of the day to getting through paperwork and making my first client call. I don’t even rail against how hard it is anymore. I just recognize it.

I also recognize this: Push against the resistance and it whithers. Because it is a lie. Stuff is not hard. Only the resistance is hard. The depression is hard. Old age is hard. A bully, who quickly turns tail and runs if I fight back just a little. Push against the resistance for 20 minutes and it crumbles. (Thank you, John Cleese, for changing my life.)

Coffee has become my Popeye spinach in the morning. My “take that” punch. My partner in beating back the bully.  My director in the show of “Showtime!”.

For those who are saying “Too many cultural references”.  I was raised on Bullfinch’s Mythology, old science books, and the classics that were on the bookshelves of my great Aunt Helen and my father’s father.  You can read about Sisyphus here. I misused his tale a bit, but that’s a poet’s privilege. Newton’s third law is the one that says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And Popeye? You probably know about him.  John Cleese was part of Monty Python and a comic/creative genius. If you haven’t seen his talk on “Being Creative”, you should.

The picture is a closeup of a large, life-size sculpture of a horse. Not that you would know it by looking so close to the details. A lot of times when we look too closely at things, we lose the beauty of the whole.

And my loquaciousness this morning? I am on my third cup of coffee. Time to get to work.

Be well. Travel wisely,


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