Past Noon – Ann Howells

                             and I’m still in pajamas,
curled in my favorite chair amid books,
notebooks, fluttering pages;
the river flowing my mind spills its banks
again and again. I cannot channel it.
A caiman glides past, eyes just above water,
sinuous body a shadow, green on green,
like limeade in a tinted bottle.
Caiman are persistent. And soon parrots,
red and yellow, swoop down. I blink,
and they are gone, replaced by a capybara
snuffling in undergrowth.
Oh! Let the poem wander where it will.

I write with ballpoint.
Classy fountain pens cannot withstand
my strength of conviction, puny nibs
curl and die. Ballpoints write on, and on,
extension of myself, thoughts flow:
brain, to nerves, to pen.
The mailman comes and goes
with chirp of brake, clink of box,
about the time my coffee goes cold.
I’ll revise tomorrow; today I write.

I connect ideas with circles and arrows,
and when a word sounds off —
like mayo left too long on the counter
or milk past its sell by date —
add a list of others to consider,
cross out whole lines,
leave little notes to myself: look up Bauhaus,
find Neruda’s cat poem.
I draft less poem, than roadmap to poem,
artist’s study, architect’s blueprint.
My dogs lie, mournful, before their bowls.
(Would Milton pause to feed the dogs?
Sexton? Merwin?)

Finally, my poem packs its valise,
leaves Dallas for the Amazon,
as was perhaps intended.
Poems understand these things better than poets.
Lunch sits, dried and unappetizing,
atop my breakfast bowl on the end table;
biscotti crumbs cling to my pajamas.
The light on the phone blinks red.
Did Keats contend with ringing phones?
(But then, do I suffer consumption?)
I trek the Amazon, hand in hand with my poem,
still in pajamas at 4:23 in the afternoon.

Ann HowellsAnn Howells’ poetry has recently appeared in Crannog (Ire), San Pedro River Review, and Spillway among others. She has edited, Illya’s Honey, since 1999. Her publications are: Black Crow in Flight (Main Street Rag), Under a Lone Star (Village Books), Letters for My Daughter (Flutter).