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Paradise by Louis Jenkins

I haven’t been doing much lately. Well—I mean, much that is considered to be appropriate, logical, responsible. Yes, if you were my father, you’d say, it has been a very irresponsible start of the year, and when will you start getting your act together? Because it seems such a ridiculous waste, this.

I begin the day with a schedule and a to-do list in mind. I wake up at six, sometimes seven, wrestling with the blanket that wants to keep me in bed. I eat breakfast now, and have coffee. I do my thinking in the bath. There are check items, and bullet items, and a timeline in my head. Then I sit on my desk—

I always end up derailed, distracted, directed into other odd, most wondrous things. And so the day passes, and then it’s gone. And I’m surprised at the hours, and I can’t remember where they went, or what I did at a certain time, only that I must do it, be there, be lost in it. Every day I seem more bewildered.

A part of me says yes. A part of me says no. The voices inside my head say, there she goes, the little heartache, and oh, can’t you behave yourself, and there’s work to do, you know, and I thought we talked about this and you’ve agreed to do better, and dammit, just let her.

It’s February, which has always been difficult. I’ve loved two men, and both were born on this month. They were great loves. I love them, but I no longer love them. There’s a strange feeling in my chest. I think it is my heart. It opens, and closes. And opens.

Happy birthday, S., you lovely, beautiful person.

Louis Jenkins

January finally drags into February and one fumbles with
numb fingers at the ordinary knots and hooks of life. People
are irritable, difficult. Some days you want to stay in bed
with the covers over your head and dream of paradise. A
place where the warm sea washes the white sand. There
are a few palm trees on the higher ground, many brightly
colored fish in the lagoon, waves breaking on the reef
farther out. No one in sight. Occasionally an incredibly
large, split-second shark darkens the clear water. Sea birds
ride the wind currents, albatross, kittiwake, … and pass
on. Day after day, sea wind and perfect sky … You make a
big heap of driftwood on the beach.

Comments (4)

  • I swear to god I was about to post this poem yesterday. Sometimes Writer’s Almanac just gets it so right.

  • T: I continue to be amazed at your unerring ability to arrive at the perfect poem to accompany your own beautiful expressions. How well I recognize the derailing and distraction into other wondrous things! I am not sure of the identity of your number 5, but let’s just say, without wanting to presume, that I noticed it. Marvelous, once again, that you’ll be a TA for ModPo 2. We are all the luckier to have you in that role.

  • You write so, so beautifully.

    I also am far too familiar with this bewildered feeling. I want to write every hour, every minute, every moment…and then instead I lose myself on pinterest, or find myself checking hotmail, or Facebook, or looking up randomnesses on Google….

    I wonder if it was simpler back in the day when writers used feather quills instead of laptops connected to the internet.


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