RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – March 6

Poem of the Week 03/06/18


Arthur Russell

What it means to join a team who’ll have you
is that, holed up in a city job,
suburban mall, or dried and hollow log,
you’ll find a fellow who can help adjust
your grip or stance or attitude, suggest
a change of method or remind you,
when you’re all used up, that days are only days,
and misses are forgiven on the dugout steps
by rubbing someone’s head.

I have such a team assembled
on my book shelves, all around
the outside of my room, immune to time
and quick to stay asleep until I call them,
and difficult to reckon then because they never
stop believing in themselves
exactly as they made themselves, and each
is only with me for as long as I can give them
what they wanted all along,

and this I only do in shortened stands
by writing in their margins like the 6th grade boy
who wrote I love you with a felt tip pen
on Hollis Seidner’s hand
in the schoolyard near the cyclone fence
around the unused flower garden
just outside the kindergarten.

Some, I never knew except in runes,
some, in offices, on college afternoons,
where thoughts wore fenders to protect
their brittle hulls, but we never did go far enough
because they never loved me well enough.

It always was for love, though unlike life,
where wanting more than people have
to offer is a barrier,
in books, where adamantine
is a virtue, relations take a subtler course,
and patience grows in silence
where the ever-present present lands me side by side
with time’s most prickly souls, where I’m happy,
both myself alone or wearing someone’s jersey.

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