(For Elvis, Edith Piaf, and All Whom Paris and New York Have Swallowed Whole)
11-23-09 by Mark Nielsen
Some days I feel about as important as a single telephone pole–
That one! There. See it?
Covered in kudzu vines,
Just one in a string of a thousand
across flat, hot, desolate Mississippi.
How important is it to fix a broken bicycle spoke?
Does a lynchpin ever know it is the lynchpin?
Who ever said that by doing something I love,
and doing it well,
The world would come running to hear it?
The world does not need me.
In fact, the world never knows what it needs.
Until it finds it.
At which point it immediately spoils it.
And the journey to glory
Est un voyage court à nulle part.
And as for talent:
Are you listening to these words,
Or just watching the way my hair falls across my forehead?
What profiteth it for a man
to talk real purty?
Or for a woman to belt out a sad song for her father?
Or for a child set adrift to paint a starry night?
The ruts in this road are deep, though.
It will take more strength than I have
On my own, in these arthritic hands,
To turn right up ahead when we see the road home.
(That is, if I’m not asleep at the wheel when it comes).
On the other hand,
at least I can’t turn around, either.
So take the wheel, St. Therese.
Where are we going?