Loud Worries—Quiet Ideas

“The day turned into the city
and the city turned into the mind
and the moving trucks tumbled along
like loud worries speaking over
the bicycle’s idea”

(From: I Love You More Than All the Windows in New York City by Jessica Greenbaum published in the July/August 2012 issue of Poetry)

I enjoyed this poem and have read it several times. It has a welcoming rhythm like a memorable poem should. And it provokes thought. I like the idea of ‘loud worries over bicycle’s (quiet) idea.’ I try to write daily and succeed most of the time. But if a day goes by without me at the desk typing or in my overstuffed chair writing longhand, the culprit is more times than not worry. Nothing is more distracting than anxiety. Often this distress is simply negative anticipation. William Inge said worry is, “Interest paid on trouble before it becomes due.” Often the trouble anticipated is not as terrible as we imagined. So I could say that my imagination got in the way of my imagination. That is, my imagined worries blocked my productive imagination. I must be crazy to let my imagination dictate its mode for the day. ‘Today, I will waste your time inventing problems or exaggerate the perceived problem so that I don’t have to work on a new story for you.’

It is like the imagination invented its own fiction and placed me as the protagonist and then proceeded to foist every kind of pain and apprehension on me as I usually do to my characters. It is like my imagination becomes Frankenstein monster and turns on me, standing between me and the writing I committed to.

Worry is one of the most unproductive things I engage in. I could spend the energy solving the problem or at least realistically analyzing the actual magnitude of the problem. (Magnitude may be to strong a word to use in regard to any of my problems.)

“…no matter the day,we tend towards
remaking parts of it – what we said
or did, or how we looked—”

I find myself ‘remaking’ parts of the day, reviewing conversations in which I misstated my true feelings and the subsequent extending of an uncomfortable arrangement which I do not have the courage to break off. Reviewing the day leaves me thinking about jobs that went well and kicking myself for those that could have been accomplished with more expertise, expertise which I possess after long years of performing my day job, but which fled from my senses when I needed them, whether due to fatigue or distraction. Still I sit with afternoon coffee and think of how I could have perfectly solved the problem and with less time and trouble and therefore, more profitably. I think back with regret for not phoning my mom just to ask how she’s getting along.

As I look back I tend to rewrite the day more perfectly. In my hindsight I am a kinder, more thoughtful, energetic do-gooder. In hindsight I never have food between my teeth or in my shirt pocket when talking to a you.

“…the hearty pigeons collaborate
with wrought iron fences
and become recurring choruses of memory
reassembling around benches
we sat in once…”

I have my favorite memories. These tend to resurface from time to time, no doubt triggered by some stimulus to my senses that resemble sparks from these past pleasant times. I am not even sure which senses are causing these memories to return often. I’m not complaining, but pleasant memories can be another distraction and time waster. The memory visits, I resist slightly, I give in and make another cup of coffee and allow the memory to entertain me for far too long.

I love poems that provoke thought.

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