This is an experiment, using a poetic form created by Terrance Hayes. As Hayes does in his poem The Golden Shovel, I have taken every word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ The Pool Players and used them in the same order to end each line of my poem. In an act of dubious modesty, I have illustrated my own poem with a silver rather than a golden shovel.
It is hard to know the reason why we
prefer the imagined person to the real.
The highest praise we can give is to say, “She’s cool”:
So we keep the illusion that she whom we admire will
be always at ease, bound to ideologies neither of left
nor of right, jiving her way through school
in a way we seek to emulate, yet we
know that if we were to lurk
around her waste bins, waiting late
into the night, we would find that we
at the heart of living: none of us can go any way but straight,
along the path that life has laid for us: we
speak or cry or sing,
spread virtue or sin,
turn any way we
want, bear ourselves cautiously or skate on thin
ice, drink milk or gin – we
find that life is all that jazz,
that moon still rhymes with June,
and whatever we try we
later or soon.