On Timing

by Elizabeth Jennings

The radiance of the star that leans on me
Was shining years ago. The light that now
Glitters up there my eyes may never see,
And so the time lag teases me with how

Love that loves now may not reach me until
Its first desire is spent. The star’s impulse
Must wait for eyes to claim it beautiful
And love arrived may find us somewhere else.

Thanks to Kim for this one, and the reminder that today is Poem in your Pocket Day.


“Forgiveness. The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this, because it is the key to making art and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life. Every time I have set out to translate the book (or story, or hopelessly long essay) that exists in such brilliant detail on the big screen of my limbic system onto a piece of paper (which, let’s face it, was once a towering tree crowned with leaves and a home to birds), I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.”

— In her beautiful meditation on the writing life, Ann Patchett adds to our ongoing archive of wisdom on writing. Pair with Patchett’s advice to graduates on writing and life.

It does help on a productive level to know I’m not the only one who experiences this—the terrible understanding that unfolds as I’m working on a book or story that it will never be on paper what it is in my imagination—but that does nothing to help it on the gut level.

In the Nansemond River


A man comes to love the ground where he lives, yet
how does this begin, in what sun-vanished split
of time, what yellow leaf-fall, what graying scrape
rain drags long the dirt road? I cannot hope
to know who I am until I have learned what
all seems to know in unfailing flow: moment
by moment life is life, and death is more life.
The braiding wallside cries of cardinals climb
past where I lie, a boy, hoping I will go
far, trying to dream its shape, know what I’ll know.
What day is it I feel my father’s boat drift
slowly out, then back, caught in the tidal shift?
Pieces sail by, grass, paper, wood, frayed rope.

Dave Smith, from Fate’s Kite: Poems, 1991-1995 (Louisiana State University Press, 1995)