Hand and Eye

This is the burning-pot, last time the rice.
Tonight, it’s the specially-bought organic potatoes.
So, time to sit back and ponder why it’s gone wrong.
You never were a ball-player, a Sobers, a Beckham.
Even juggling with Latin embarrassed you with its spillage
Of meaning. So why persist in thinking, after a life’s experience,
You could better what the Americans said of one of their Presidents
And try to chew gum and scratch your arse at the same time.

To cook the meal and write the poem is the issue:
When will you give up this fantasy? You recall the young
Shirley Temple at the piano announcing to the audience
That she would play and sing at the same time.
And you think, all these years after Temple; all these men
In the world maintaining two families at the same time;
The politicians conducting war and peace at the same time;
Is it too much to ask yourself to these two things at once?

from Looking Out, Looking In: New and Selected Poems(Anvil Press, 2009), © E A Markham 2009, used by permission of the author’s Estate and the publisher.

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