In anticipation of my birthday,
I’ve decided not to scratch my head
searching for perfect nouns, verbs
to fill an empty space on a page.
I won’t worry about modifiers
or similes that refuse to settle in,
or the scolded child of passive voice.
No, today I will sit to admire
the prints on this wall, the map
posted over my cluttered desk
with its question mark of Africa,
its blue seahorse of Japan,
the stingray and its tail made
from the Aleutians and Alaska.
This is where I’ll wait
for my birth hour, which arrives
each year like summer gossip
with promises of ten more winters,
an abundance of more gray hair.
I will leave it all behind
to read Whitman or Paz, perhaps
a bit of George Bilgere,
and after I have a sandwich
with a Dutch or Belgian beer,
I’ll return alone to my map
where my mouth begins to water
as I taste the bone-in ribeye
that is always South America.
(Published in Tuck Magazine, July 2012; published also as part of my collection, Around the Sun Without a Sail)