The Longest Time

My mother believes

     that every grief

          recalls, or

at least summons

     the memory of

          every other grief.

And I can’t help but

     think if that

          is so, then

it must also be true

     for joy. Just as

          it must also be

when the seasons turn

     it brings back

          every other season

or maybe just the first.

     As in the first last

          time you ever

experience something.

     I remember hearing

          Billy Joel playing

in the other room

     on the stereo

          while I was in

the other room doing

     something else,

          I forget what

and I ran to

     where the music

          was coming from

thinking it might be

     the last time

          I ever hear that song.

I was only a kid,

     and surprised by

          my mother

with the cassette case

     in her hand,

          and I realized

we could play the song

     any time we wanted.

          Even when it’s not

on the radio,

     you can bring it back

          by rewind or

fast forward,

     to the precise moment

          the song begins.

And not only that, but

     every time you hear the song

          is also every other

time you’ve heard the song.

     Every age you become

          is also every age

you’ve ever been.

     Which is why I feel

          like a child

as the days grow shorter

     and longer

          and I’m rushing

from the other room

     to see everything

          before it passes,

and I forget

     there’s nothing

          to remember.


Read Ezra Pound’s List of 23 “Don’ts” For Writing Poetry (1913)

Read Ezra Pound’s List of 23 “Don’ts” For Writing Poetry (1913)

14. Consider the way of the scientists rather than the way of an advertising agent for a new soap. The scientist does not expect to be acclaimed as a great scientist until he has discovered something. He begins by learning what has been discovered already. He goes from that point onward. He does not bank on being a charming fellow personally. He does not expect his friends to applaud the results of his freshman class work. Freshmen in poetry are unfortunately not confined to a definite and recognizable class room. They are ‘all over the shop’. Is it any wonder ‘the public is indifferent to poetry?’

Ezra Pound was a key figure in 20th century poetry. Not only did he demonstrate impressive poetic skill in his Cantos; he also proved to be a crucial early supporter of several famous contemporaries, championing the likes of Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and H.D..