You ask why this love for the petty things,
part natural, part affectation–
and my answer’s subjective, of course.
That morning flower, the fly on my wineglass–
the mouse turds on my kitchen counter are
proof my kitchen is worth traverse by small and large life alike.
I don’t know anything about Philip Larkin
or why he’s your death’s head–
I’m just starting to learn about poems.
But I do know this much.
The budding forsythia in early spring,
the sugar I put in my tea to temper the bitter.
Those things save me from thinking about the
howling void in my heart,
and no, I’m not trying to be melodramatic.
Somedays, those no things are all I can take, in contrast to what you suggest.
What you suggest can’t bear contemplation,
not without self-annihilation.
Some of us, dear Mr. Collins, we should not,
cannot all be alone in our rooms,
throwing ourselves against the wall of life.
That thrust does not oppose the wall of death–
it is the same thing, because in the throwing,
some of us don’t know when to stop.
In hurling at the question of meaning,
the enigma of origins,
we cannot discern our selves– others.
Better the firefly,
the droplet on the green leaf,
the fragrant soap in the tub that slickens and scrubs.
Each small beauty leaves us touched with its grace,
grateful and cleansed with the notion of some thing
smaller than something large– existential.
Smaller than some thing that contemplates
whether we are some one or no one,
have accomplished some thing or no thing at all.
The maul of sense, in those circumstances,
would be to dwell on those no things
not petty or affected at all.
We solve no great mysteries, but we are some things rather than no things.
(With apologies and references to Billy Collins’ “No Things” from Ballistics, 2008.)