The Writing Life

Outside the cafe sits the cowboy poet tapping out poems on a curious machine.  What is that? the kids ask, leery of such a strange and noisy thing.  A worn and cracking briefcase sits at his feet, gagging on bundles of wearied paper.  Today, I sit in the cafe window seat.  The coffee is bitter, and the cup is sticky.  I wore the wrong socks.  But I ignore all that because from here, I can see the cowboy poet, protected by the shade of the umbrella and the brim of his hat and the curve of his mustache.  I spy on him, trying to imagine what he could possibly be writing.  A cowboy poet novel perhaps?  More likely, he taps out the same poem over and over, changing a single word or comma each time through, so that over years of typing, his original cowboy poem slowly transforms into something new.  He has big plans, to read his briefcase full of poems, someday, a marathon of reading, people sitting for hours, mesmerized by the rhythm of monotony, by the subtle transformations, like a Philip Glass composition, one dissonant rhyme at a time.  He will be lauded in the cowboy press, and people all over the country will demand he bring his cowboy epic to their towns. He will buy a horse which he will ride on stage, to standing ovations and great anticipation as people take their seats and hold their breath, waiting to hear this man's art that will renew their interest in their own mundane lives.

Or maybe, he is not a poet at all, but an eccentric mid-level bureaucrat who is writing reports that no one will ever read, to be filed away in some cabinet in some office in some building that houses reams of identical reports that no one will ever read, written by other cowboy poet bureaucrats from towns all over the country.

Or maybe he is writing about me, the woman with the rude glare and the bad socks.

Does it matter what the cowboy poet is writing? Not at all. And yet, how I so wish it were otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Or he could be a bicycle poet trying to recover from years of rambling roads and poetry, or wishing to escape the life of a cowboy poet by becoming a bicycle poet, or.....

    Grandpa John -- bicycling poet and reformed bureaucrat