A Man of His Words; Walking Bayside; No Man Is an Island

A Man of His Words

In fifty-two years
of writing down stuff -
    satirical ditties to impress girls in high school,
    poems to explain his ennui and error,
    novels, well, because he adores them, 
    essays to laud the idea of a tree -
words were a way to perform from the bleachers,
crafted for readers he didn’t want to know,
or sweat with, or fight.

In year fifty-three,
his daughters emerge as opinioned adults.
He tries to recover,
but it’s hard to be cool
when he’s sprawled on the floor,
when his words become freighted
with faces and elbows and floor burns
and light. 
Walking Bayside

Clad in boots and dreams,
He wonders what’s the better state,
To be a pebble in the stream,
Dense, selfish, clean and bright,
Or a clod in the mudflats,
Exposed to everything that matters,
Like crabs, and tides, and dance
Of sun and rain, like daughters

Dissolving in another’s joy,
Open to another’s hurt,
reaching out…. yet he stays on ease of soil, 
Hard of head, tender of foot.
No Man Is an Island

So wrote John Donne in 1624.

Of course he didn’t have Facebook
or work in a cubicle
or obsessively update a spreadsheet 
     outlining one’s
       -    present net worth both past and projected
       -    mortgaged dreams of an islanded manor
       -    legacy for daughters
     repressing one’s
         fear that the number
         there at the very end
         was not big enough
         to ensure a dignified,
         comfortable, toll-free

After a youth of wasted inheritance
on islands of pleasure
Donne settled down
and fathered twelve children
including six daughters
to whom, I expect, he listened intently
-	not straining at budgets
-	not needing a drink to feel
            what others feel sober
-	not always building up walls
and therefore discovered in time
that mere duty to daughters
is no way to calculate


Jim Krosschell divides his life into three parts: growing up for 29 years, working in science publishing for 29 years, and now writing in Massachusetts and Maine. His essays are widely published; a collection of those Maine-themed was published in One Man’s Maine (May 2017) by Green Writers Press, which won a Maine Literary Award. His book Owls Head Revisited was published in 2015 by North Country Press.