Yikes! Poetry Too?
Although best known as a songwriter and lyricist, Tom is also a poet whose work has appeared in The Fiddlehead, Descant and several other poetry magazines. This page will feature some of his poems, old and new.
Frail as a cobweb
Shakespeare and his cronies notwithstanding,
a poem is a frail boat to send
down the broad river of time; mostly you see it
capsizing in the first two hundred metres,
pounding itself to flotsam at the rapids.
One in a million makes it through the delta,
then, in the vast impartiality of ocean,
One in ten million bobs for a while
among the whitecaps within sight of shore,
noticed and remarked on by a few,
giving heart briefly, perhaps, to one or two.
So if your poetry, your slender volume
slides under the surface with no splash
and is remembered only by you
and maybe your mother or her ghost,
you have this in common
with most of the Sangha of poets
--and, eventually, with all.
Frail as a cobweb or a ziggurat, your poem
is only an inbreath and an outbreath;
at best a moment partly realized
before it moves from the is to the is not.
The dance you danced
at your cousin’s wedding
with that redhead you met
for the first and last time;
you had had a couple of drinks
and your body felt an unaccustomed glory,
and the eyes that met yours had a language,
and your feet for once did not stumble,
and afterward, that kiss in the darkened stairwell:
that was a poem,
and you never wrote it down,
could no more write it down than fly.
That moment also when your son
relied on you, and you failed him,
knowing too late no possible amends
could purchase back that trust
and make it whole:
that was as much a poem
as any of the Sonnets.
The poem on the page
is the second poem,
the less important one.
First, breathe in, breathe out,
witness the snowflake
on the raven’s wing,
feel the barb of the fishhook
as it enters your thumb.
Be alive to these things.
You will not live on in your verse.
January 11, 2021