The Scribbler

I could’ve been an engineer

not the kind that drives the trains

but the kind that builds them 

and the bridges they cross.

Catch me over here,

in my hard yellow hat, 

squinting at the pale grey light 

on this plastic number machine,

you know, the fancy kind 

with all the extra buttons —

sine cosine tangent

and here I go scratching my chin,

wondering if I got it right

as the bridge collapses behind me

sending the train into a ravine

because I wasn't put here to 

get it right.

I could’ve been an actor

making a giant mess of a scene 

across the stage and the screen

look at me look at me look at me

no seriously. look at me.

I need you to notice what 

I’m doing right here,

in this closeup that's too tight

I can no longer hide

behind these words 

transcribed from 

someone else’s 


I could’ve been a painter,

now that seems truest –

there I am alone in a

sun-streaked room, 

Bolero on blast —

rendering my cracked psyche to canvas

like a rorschach

all inky shadow and light.

wait — was that too abstract

or didactic?

either way 

I made a mess of the place

and where do I keep all these 

bulky supplies —

do you know what storage 

costs in New York?

So here I am scribbling,

a scribbler is what I’ve become.

Only took me four decades

round this twisted carousel

to realize that

when I feel the compulsion 

to express a thing 

I can just scratch it out like an itch,

what I say, is said

and when I'm done, 

it's done.

no looking back

no blessings to beseech

no software to upgrade.

now, don’t get me wrong

this is still very important work —

I mean, who else is going to give you

a daily report

on what the squirrels are up to

in my backyard?

I guess the most exciting thing 

about this entire craft 

is the weightlessness of it —

freedom from all the

reaching and striving


into the slippery, bottomless

well of arbitrary approval. 

that’s all irrelevant here 

right here

looking out this kitchen window

at the squirrels

chasing each other's tails up the birch bark

on this warm Spring day,

thank goodness nobody

reads poetry