Yesterday you were still here.
Today snow has laid itself down
in the lanes, thick as fur.
The flap in the door is locked,
as it would be. You hated snow.
I expect you in my office chair
quick as a ghost, a look to say,
“I’ve been here all along.”
In your final days, my job
was to make sure you kept warm,
stoking the coal fire, tucking
your favourite blanket under
for the payment of a blink.
Once I thought I saw you smile.
Then that last fatherly duty
reassuring you, “I am here”.
My body looks for you at night,
a space at the foot of the bed,
and opening the front door slowly
I still look down before up.
No thud as you jump from the sofa.
No late-night wailing for food.
The house-sounds are empty sounds,
the space filled up with snow.
“O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in’t!”
-Miranda, from “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare
This past weekend, I accepted the role of Chief Technology Officer for BraveNewTalent, a social recruitment startup based in London. At the David Allen Company, I have been using technology to help bring the GTD® methodology to millions of people worldwide, freeing them up from organizing tasks in their head so that they can focus on doing their best work in any context. BraveNewTalent seeks to help the workforce of the twenty-first century find, not only ideal new workplace contexts, but the relationships and aptitudes that will unleash the best work of an entire upcoming generation.
Led by visionary young entrepreneur Lucian Tarnowski, the company has already assembled a fine team and is rapidly accumulating blue-chip clients and media attention. It is an exciting time to be bridging the gap between baby boomers in corporate leadership and an inherently digital generation, who hold the promise of a new way to work. Doubly exciting is the opportunity to join not only a well-positioned startup in a high-potential emerging marketplace, but to do so in London — which is itself emerging from the ashes of the financial meltdown as a technology innovation powerhouse.
I am looking forward to doing interesting and meaningful work, with talented people, in one of the greatest cities in the world.
Sugar Mule has been good to me. My debut collection, Human Shade, features four poems published across three different issues of the magazine. It is such a boost to forge a relationship with an editor who keeps wanting more of my work.
The two poems currently featured in Sugar Mule #37 give mention to figures as diverse as John Lennon and Miranda the cat. They are in good company in this issue, alongside poems by poets such as local favorite Mary Kay Rummel.
Kudos to Cameron Scott for another fine job.
One of my poems, “Matins with Slippers and House Cat,” is now available in Sugar Mule #34 online.
I find the time to write poetry by getting up before dawn. I began writing poems with “matins” (morning prayer) in the title after reading Lousie Glück’s The Wild Iris. At first, these were quiet, grief-stricken prayers. Yet, over time, I have opened up to increasing experimentation, playing with forms more wildly, allowing myself to venture into political and ideological irreverence in search of greater truths.
This poem represents one such adventure. The final imagery comes from a brief vacation in Burgundy with Val. The car rental place upgraded us, at no extra cost, from a sensible Fiat to a nippy Alfa Romeo, and we found ourselves whizzing through the Yonne, stuffing pieces of fresh almond croissant into each other’s mouths. When we came upon the church at Saint-Père-Sous-Vèzelay, we were greeted by decapitated statuary. The implied violence struck me. Sometime later, the icons returned to me in this poem.
See also: “Three Poems in Sugar Mule Online“
The most striking feature of Marvin Bell’s craft talk during the Pacific University MFA Winter residency was his closing remark about the three traits of the artist. Here is what I wrote down:
- A disregard for convention
- A strong inner direction
- A love of challenges
I have been meditating on these qualities ever since, seeing where I can, for example, wipe the dust of adoration from my eyes and transcend old lyric devices. Then it occurred to me that our cat, Miranda, exemplifies all three traits in abundance throughout her daily life.
I’ve decided cats like poets, and not just because they’re warm and still while reading and writing. It seems poets like cats as well. I was sorry to hear of Michael’s loss today. Having grown up highly allergic to cats, I always thought I didn’t like them. Then Miranda came into our lives.
This morning, during meditation, she curled up on my lap. Afterwards, Val pointed out that she has been much more inclined to be close to me since I have been getting up early to write. I have been calmer, and more in touch with my poetic sensibilities (rather than my type-a technocrat sensibilities), and our cat can tell.
She’s a kind of barometer of consciousness on furry little legs. And, of course, she knows all the coziest spots in the house, suitable for reading, writing, or having a good wash with the tongue.