Thomas Barrett Ward


                    Is there ever a moment
                    when we don’t hear sirens?

                                     — Stephen Dobyns

And even if there is
it won’t change how I so blithely
exaggerate the work I accomplish
around the house, am quick to narrate
how each task becomes a little sigh,
a little moan, all me. Rest assured
I still refuse to ruminate
on these jobs that lack any prompt
or metaphysical reverberations
and such insouciance frustrates,
annoys her constantly.

Illuminating the labor it takes
to focus on the everything of nothing,
Zen Buddhists say inside
the smallest jewel you’ll find a thousand
sweating horses, something drawn
from the heart and the head.
Our plumber says a good chunk
of the West owes its fortune
to a roll of duct tape. Despite
the beauty of what’s revamped, repaired,
who would want to oil the squeak
out of their marriage bed?

Love, the furnace is cheating
on the thermostat and the dryer’s
no longer speaking to its vent,
this throng of domestic duties
needing careful attention, a gesture
from the ratchet’s silver knuckles,
the channel locks and staple gun.
And even though such work
cannot sate me like the daydreams
I follow with a pencil,
know this as only you can know it
and take whatever solace you require --
when you call me to another
exquisitely impossible task, I will come.

Previously published in Rattapallax

Date of Birth: May 25, 1963
Location: Palmyra, New York
Occupation: Editor / Development Director at BOA Editions / Teach poetry workshops in elementary and high schools and the Writers & Books Literary Center
Books: Small Boat with Oars of Different Size (Carnegie Mellon Univ. Press), Tumblekid (Univ. of South Carolina-Aiken), Various Orbits (Carnegie Mellon, forthcoming April, 2003)

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