Pretending to Write

At the other end of Lac Leman
Where the lake turns into a river
A dog-leg foot bridge links
The soon-to-be banks of the Rhone
To a tiny island inhabited by ducks and swans
And a guano-crowned statue of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Gazing out into the lake, pen poised, pensive
As the swans and paddleboats arc round
The jet deau at the end of the pier

Indolent schoolboys gather on the benches there
Drinking beer from paper sacks and hurling
Taunts up at the old philosopher:
J. J., you old shithead!
All you ever do is sit there in your chair
Looking inspired as hell
But you never write a thing.
As fearless as we were foolish
Ruthlessly invincible.

Convinced we had all the time in the world to write
Or paint or compose and still take off
From our studies whenever we wanted
To go cartwheeling round the globe in search of experience
Despite the draft and the drugs and the politics
Waiting to swallow us up like gentle Miguel
Who legend has it paddled into the middle of the lake
Stoned in a storm never to be seen
Or heard from again.

Now I see Miguel approach the bench
Bottle of wine in either pocket of the
Brown leather jacket he used to wear
Hunch over strings he tuned to
Pluck the mellow out of any anguish
And I scribble furiously in my notebook
As the swans and the paddle boats arc
Round the jet deau at the end of the pier
Making up for lost time.

2014 Jim Ramsay, all rights reserved.