Sunday, December 28, 2008

The genius

demands quiet.

He shouts down ten stories at the jackhammers,
shakes his fist at the crosstown bus.

Call him too late and he won't answer;
too early,
and you'll wish he'd never picked up the phone.

These are his requirements:
a pot of Earl Grey, six pencils (sharpened),
one blue ballpoint, a pad
of college-ruled notepaper, a bowl
of rice pudding, with a tablespoon.
No television.
No radio.

He never begins until almost midnight,
and then he'll stalk barefoot and mad-haired
until the garbage trucks snort and grumble in the street
and he crumples up half-sonnets and
aborted triolets to throw at them.

Don't you dare bang your broom on the ceiling.

And don't waste words reminding him of the days when poems leapt
from his pen so quickly that he would write in subway cars
and at deli counters, and even if you jostled his elbow
or poked your umbrella in his back
you couldn't stop him from scorching page after page
with hymns of fire and the pink tragedy of a winter sky.

Mark Aiello