This Poem Will Be My Last Poem
I do hate it when people say that, and I always hear other people say
they hate it too, but then I say it—
I don’t know.
What I want to say about this one as an introduction
is that it was inspired
by a doomed relationship, the sort of relationship that I guess everyone
experiences at some point, or if not
probably should experience at least
once. I mean being in love, and being loved back, and that not being
enough. One night we were sitting in her apartment
and she asked me to make up
and tell her a story. A little cute, okay, but these things do happen.
And I thought, I’m a poet—I have to make this good.
But then I thought, I’m a poet, it’s okay if this is bad—
I’m not a novelist. Or a short story writer or whatever.
But still I wanted to come up with something good—
for her and for me—
not just some story about something that happened to me in real life
that I thought was meaningful, but a fairytale:
something definitely meaningful. So I told her this story about a turtle
and a fox and a bear, or maybe it was a fox and a bear and a mouse,
or a turtle and a mouse and a fox,
or a turtle and a mouse and a bear—
anyway, she might know, but we don’t speak now. And in the story
an owl who lives in a giant tree in the middle of a vast forest
warns the three (or four) woodland friends walking along below him
that an asteroid will reach the Earth
in seven days. And the fox is losing his mind about this, and the rabbit—
maybe there was a rabbit, too—
is quietly losing her mind about this, and the turtle and mouse and bear
(if there was a bear)
are losing it over this knowledge they have, so every day they return
to the owl for his forecast, and they ask him
if there’s anything they can do to avert the disaster, and he just says:
“An asteroid will reach the Earth in seven days!”—
“An asteroid will reach the Earth in six days!”—
“An asteroid will reach the Earth in five days!”—
it’s a little repetitive, but remember I was thinking of all this on the fly.
And it was pretty
late at night, and it’s much easier to remember things that just keep
happening and happening. Anyway,
he says this every day for a week,
until the last day, when the three or five friends go visit the Great Owl
in his giant tree in the middle of the vast forest
and he says
“It’s here.” And right at that moment this object hurtles down
through the dense canopy of trees
and hits the fox square on the nose and bounces to the ground, sizzling.
The fox is fine.
Everyone is fine.
Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say by way of preface. It was a bit long—
it got away from me a little bit, I think! Thank you for putting up with me.
So, this poem is called
“This Poem Will Be My Last Poem”