Poet of Things

For Francis Ponge.

Let’s go to the mute world of things, beyond the reach of the tyrannical hordes and the hordes of tyrants-in-training with their drums set to the old standard, Idea! Idea! Idea! always keeping the beat of self-proclaimed righteousness.

I’d rather listen to the drum before it’s conscripted into the service of some march or another. After that, I’ll go visit with the soap, whose songs are vivid with suds, its cheeky humor always slipping through the grasp.

I speak for no one and would never presume to ventriloquize one of these––or anyone else, for that matter. But I am drawn to their ripe quietude, each like a waiting page, like the open hand of a familiar stranger, inviting the next dance. I am, after all, a creature of language, bound by fate to remake each daily scene one day at a time, and my humble purpose is for noticing what happens at the interface between these winking syllables and these never-ending odds and ends, waiting to be new again.


This morning I learned that it was the birthday of French writer Francis Ponge (1899-1988), an essayist and poet associated with the surrealist movement, who famously reimagined the inner lives of ordinary things in his workI admire the gentle playfulness and generosity of his spirit.

Keeping Quiet

Protecting space for the still, small voice.

I want to protect this tiny plot of quiet I’ve been keeping, hoping that some seeds might take. The only problem is, it’s Monday. So, things are about to get real loud, real fast. Out there, anyway, which is where I have to be going. Of course, this is just what we do. We leave the quiet here with the cat and whatever’s defrosting on the counter, and we come back in the evening and try to enjoy. 

But I don’t think that’s going to work. I need to know that when I get back, it’s still here, this shaded plot with these seeds still underground. I need to know that it hasn’t been torn up by coyote packs and air traffic, by the alarms and bells and bustlings of the day, these noises and movements which have a way of seeping in, even at a distance––along with the nagging to-dos, and mostly I want to know that it will be okay when I leave it here. I am not going to be able to take any extra time tending it over coffee. There will be no mid-morning feedings, no midday walks, no rocking meditations over midafternoon chores done at an easy pace. I am going to be out there––

There, where there’s no telling what’s waiting for me to leave this quiet alone for two minutes so it can ravage all my tending. 

That is just not going to work. I can’t just leave this quiet here alone all day. It could choke on something it picks up off the floor or eat junk food all day or get a mind to start probing electrical outlets with forks. That won’t do. I am going to swaddle it carefully, wrap it in soft fabric, tight and close against my chest, and I am going to take it with me. If anyone asks, ‘What’s that?’ I’ll just smile and wink and say Shhhhhhhh, as I place a reassuring open palm against the reassuring press of this tiny solid body sleeping into my heartbeat.