After this Poem

After this poem has been written the world will no longer
be the same. Why, I’ve barely finished writing one line,
and already tides have brought a new raft of jellyfish
onto the beach outside my house.
The ever changing world and my fixed words
are mixed into each other; after this poem is finished,
things will seem go on as if nothing has happened, but, a-ha!
A letter will have been slipped into the envelope of reality
that will one day reveal the secret alphabet
of bees in their hives, dandelions on my lawn;
or, anyway, my clumsy transcription of these phenomenon…

After this poem has been written,
my life will be fixed into a rare, settled order
within its words.
I must choose, and choose well, before the paint dries,
so to speak, and I find myself stuck in a creation filled with consequential,
        self-satisfied lies!
Once any possibility of revision has been put to an end,
all the promises I’ve made will come a-knockin’ when they’re broken.
In this imagined, completed poem,
today’s beard will be seared into time;
my favorite hat will always be in its out-of-date style,
like a tattoo on my chest, with its ink made more painful
still when it comes to my inevitable regret.
However, on the upside,
my wine-stained smile will forever elude the dentist’s scold,
as my grandmother’s does in her picture on my bookcase.
In that far away poem,
I’ll no longer need to choose among shoes
to go off on the same walk into familiar hills;
come evening, my slippers will leap up
to meet my feet, as always happens in its words,
with a satisfied, lamb like bleat.

But what will the followers of fads see in all this?
Dilettantes, who hate making a commitment?
One day, they’ve decided to reform their lives
and been baptized; the day after,
they’re drinking daiquiris in the afternoon
with the neighbor’s hot wife.
Lucky for them, I’m an obsessive reviser
of my work, so the world remains in flux
as I mull over contingencies. But in case I ever
manage to finish writing this poem,
those coming from beyond the ever receding
horizon of time will have to conjure a new world
all over so as to begin afresh. Mine has rolled
exhausted into a corner.

Jeff Armbruster lives in Berkeley, CA. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from UC Santa Cruz. He plays classical guitar when he's not out hiking or getting lost in a book. A natural recluse, he's nevertheless presentable when in public and can often be found attending concerts for small ensembles.

See more of his work in 10.2

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