Friday, December 09, 2011

Best first line of poem, thank z be to Mary Oliver: You do not have to be good

You do not have to be good

You don't have to finish your breakfast and wash the dishes
before you go to write a poem
or take a walk
or go back to bed and make love to everyone you love

You do not have to say your prayers
Nor do you have to scorn those who pray continuously

You do not have to turn out the lights
and go to sleep at

You do not have to be fresh and perky the next

Nor need you repent of the late night reading
walking under the stars
making love to everyone you love
lying awake in blessed non sleep not dreaming
not thinking
not even meditating

just warm
lying there
wasting time

You do not have to not waste time

You can linger
almost anything to good effect
whatever good effect means,
let's say it means: joyful sustanence

and linger away
at the book, the lover, the bed, the walk,
the poem,

even your work

You do not have to begrudge your
Nor listen to anyone who is boring you

You do not have to wait until tomorrow
to be
nor even
until this poem is over

wild geese fly over Mary Oliver's poem
and the heater hums in mine
a rare cold day in Austin
in Texas
where I never thought I'd be
and I'm in love
with so many things
and I could blame it on Austin
or God
or you

but why bother

you do not have to have an excuse
for joy

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