By on Jan 21, 2014 in Poetry

Poem on whiteboard

April is National Poetry Month, and there I was, April 13, 10 a.m., reading a poem by C.K. Williams, the one about how he would like to write a poem for every girl in the world and how everyone — children, congressmen, men in the woods, workers on the assembly line — should have a poem, should see one swing by on the hoist, should have one float down to them like a feather, find one written out on the underside of a turned stone… just the surprise of knowing that there are, out of nowhere, poems that are their poems alone, that their poems can be held inside of them and that there are poems there inside of them, and how many poems it would take for everyone to know that, and how little time there is… anyway, that poem was printed out on a whiteboard propped on an easel outside the Pakistani fast-food place on Third Street in downtown Seattle, and I think it was out there for me and was mine alone, and it was, in fact, a day that was like a poem, written with a soft west wind off the Sound and magnolia trees blooming, and maples still barren but finally with buds, and young women in coffee shops, on every corner it seemed, after all it was downtown Seattle, and there was work to be done, of course work to be done, on the downtown streets and in the towers and in the harbor and in the soft air… and that’s why I was in Seattle, after all, work to be done, and without work to be done what would be the point of stopping to read my C.K. Williams poem printed on a whiteboard propped on an easel outside the Pakistani fast-food place, or anywhere a poem turned up or floated down or swung by or appeared on the side of a bus or in a cloud’s form or written by a soft west wind sweeping across the sound… and I figured, yes, that was my poem, put there for me so I’d stop and understand how many poems there were yet to write, so I might sit down that evening and write one, only one, but that would be one less on the back of poor C.K., and who knows, perhaps the next person with work to do who stopped and read his or hers would get home, perhaps after flying back to Portland, or right here in Seattle, sitting alone in a bar after an early-season Mariners game, and that person would write one also and, little by little, all the beautiful girls and every person would have their own poem, and I would have mine.




David Filer grew up in the low California desert but has lived in Oregon (now Portland) since 1975. He's retired from an early career teaching junior high school and then a longer one as an attorney. Now he volunteers in the local juvenile court and his neighborhood middle school. His wife, Marlene Anderson, created and directs The Imani Project, working with villagers in coastal Kenya on HIV/AIDS prevention, orphan support and related issues.