Remedy for Pessimism

Robert Bense Click to read more...

Robert-BenseRobert Bense grew up in southern Illinois on a farm, worked in business and taught at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania.  His work has appeared in many magazines, including Agni, Boulevard, Crazyhorse, Poetry, Salmagundi, Shenandoah and The New Republic.   A book of poems, Readings in Ordinary Time, was published by The Backwaters Press.  He now lives in Sacramento, California.

The clevis has lost its pin
says the griot.  We know what he means.
Such are the squalid futures of the small.
Yet thinning beyond recognition
gave Marc Antony an inner life to envy.
In much of the country important links
go missing, like a cotter key
or the O-ring on distant travel.
Just in case, there’s always the allure
of new beginnings, but after taking wing
we want to get back safely.
As we start to take the long view
we think about the things
we’re going to leave unfinished
and the forecast is not good
for the endless summer
picnic of potato salad
and American pie.
Some say that the infinitude that precludes
the best possible gin or martini
also precludes the best possible world.
Though all things decline
from their perfection (such as it is)
you still wonder why there is anything at all.

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