I am an assistant professor at Chadron State College in northwest Nebraska where I teach writing and American literature. I received my PhD from Ohio University and my MFA from the University of Idaho. Despite another disappointing season, I am also a diehard Boston Red Sox fan.
A Well Composed Work
Hurling dreadfully fast through time
his aging Enthusiasts continued to admire
his creation. Their dogged devotion had dwindled
since publication forty years ago, but several still invested
the occasional hour to reconnect
with his more-than-competent book
as if enjoying an afternoon beer
with an old high school friend; others, pushing shopping carts
along anonymous aisles of their local supermarket,
trying to choose between brands
of tomato sauce, would suddenly remember his humorous insight
about the banality of human experience;
one couple, bodies only a few years from failure,
even transported his slim collection (the other two he penned lacking
in a brown box to their assisted living apartment.
The universe, if conscious of itself, might have found
something to admire. If not in his creation specifically
than certainly in the mode it represented--A Well Composed Work.
It would have appreciated the sporadic flares
of almost-brilliance. Unlike those Select Masterpieces
in their haze of greatness, which require the universe
centuries to whittle
into nothing, there was something artistically appealing
in the brevity of his achievement.
Still, with each passing year, ivy scales
the sides of libraries; still an abundancy
of other, newer Well Composed Works on shelves
desperate for significance.
Even now an inconsequential light glows
in his cluttered room. He holds a number two pencil
trying to compose something of permanence.
Five hundred miles away, during the commercial break of a preferred
crime drama, one of his near-ancient Enthusiasts
removes from the shelf his creation.
But because she will not live forever, and because
this most-successful of his works
is long out of print, her temporary perusal
will never prove enough. Instead, he labors into the night,
producing grey marks of fine penmanship
that, if only for a few years, will not fade.
©2016 Steve Coughlin