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About this Poem 

“‘Another Poem’ is what it says, another instance of effort in a loop or line of trying. It maps compositional ordinariness onto other more ‘trying’ routines—waking for work, fueling with coffee, filling out forms and filling forms out, enduring weather—the ‘gray games’ within which something else can happen: poetry, love, struggle. The poem is neither particularly pessimistic nor optimistic, but as documentary as its descriptive title; maybe it does permit itself to try to hear, in the word ‘west,’ a version of Molly Bloom's ‘yes’ that ends Ulysses, that epic of movement through the quotidian.”
Geoffrey G. O’Brien

Another Poem

I bypassed all the compromise,
The first ten problems of speech
And the latest, the sharpest, the contest,
Then began, having already fallen,
To rise just less, weaker than
My chore, yours, made else
By othering, by day by day,
The schedules, the routes, task
Whose claim I forgot to throw off,
Rising less but somewhat up anyway
With a kind of strength for having
Done so several times before.
I mean all times so far
Which is the taste of coffee gone
This latest one, and that it sticks
Like nothing else has ever done.
It isn’t a calamity so much
As a disaster that it’s not one.
Things already were real, are
Never just. Did not just get,
Can’t help being so. This
Massive ordinary cloud
Where I surrendered to
Filling out a form in the rain
That doesn’t come or does,
Sent down or kept in overplus
Till the next storm’s approved,
The face notified of its context,
The sequence continuing west
West I said west, turning up
To receive some all,
To celebrate that share of sense
Breaking into day then run
After it as through gray games
I plan to win by losing only
Every time but one, the next
To last or after that, though
What it’s called when it comes
I don’t, I do, pretend to know.

Copyright © 2015 by Geoffrey G. O'Brien. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 10, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Geoffrey G. O'Brien. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 10, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Geoffrey G. O'Brien

Geoffrey G. O'Brien

Geoffrey G. O'Brien is the author of Experience in Groups (Wave Books, 2018), People on Sunday (Wave Books, 2013), Metropole (University of California Press, 2011), Green and Gray (University of California Press, 2007), and The Guns and Flags Project (University of California Press, 2002). He teaches English at the University of California, Berkeley and San Quentin State Prison and lives in Berkeley, California.

by this poet

poem
The winter, it was the winter all
the usual things happened,
I have forgotten what
would travel from the north
as a series seen from above
or from below, and the followers,
the flowers, I tore them up
the next summer, or rather
before or immediately after
and thought no more about it.
But then the summer, plans
poem
What follows is terms and classifications, the West 
Of speech congratulating itself within
A system so complex there's no way not to be 
Effective. Just as they had planned the streets
On either side are lined with all that's needed,
Storefronts whose glass returns a look 
Filled with the contents it displays
(
poem
Control has been candied and exchanged
So many times it feels like the night 
Of the day, a troubled ride through 
A beginning whose motor announces
It's still the mild guardian 
Of a human bird we don't yet hear.
She needs no protection nor exists
Except as a set of performances,
Notes mistaken for an identity