By Texas author and poet James R. Dennis

"I find myself unconcerned about which bird gets the worm." 




I do not understand all these expectations—

neither those that I have of myself

nor those that have been placed upon me.

I am not beast enough for this burden.

I do not see myself as a journeyman;

rather, at best, I’m a reluctant trainee.


Instead of courage, I can boast only of having

the cowardice of my convictions. I did not arrive

ready to work. I came here to take my Sabbath rest.

I find myself unconcerned about which bird gets the worm.

This shirt has a stain; this suit is a mess.

As you can tell, I have not dressed to impress.


I bring nothing to the table other than my lassitude.

Wherever I go, I take a certain pride in my sloth,

whether I’m in Dublin, or Tennessee, or Persia.

Unless acted upon by some foreign (and unwelcome

force) an object at rest will remain at rest. This

is my guiding principle: the law of inertia.





As with each loss we suffer, each

new love functions as a palimpsest:

the way a chalkboard resists complete erasure.

We write the new text over the old,

which may appear or fade out

from time to time.


Like wet cement we are . . . impressionable.

This might simply operate as a function

of memory—not merely a recollection of

the narrative, but emotional

memory, you know,

the sentimental kind.


For example, when you reminded

me that I had been practicing

poetry without a license,

I laughed because it was funny,

but it also raised the echo of

other, earlier disqualifications.


The mind, without much thinking or fanfare,

writes upon a time-worn script: not so much out of a sense

of economy, but in the way that old dogs struggle

with new tricks. And when our memory encounters

holes or gaps in the story, like an actor who’s

forgotten his lines, we ad-lib the narration.


We invent the past when it’s not

available, as though we found ourselves

in the witness protection program.

Thus, like a jilted lover, our remembrances

are a bit unreliable. They have their own agenda,

and we can never be certain of their game plan.


© James R. Dennis, used by permission

James R. Dennis is a poet, a novelist, and a Dominican friar. Along with two friends, he is co-author of the Miles Arceneaux mystery series; he also writes and teaches on spiritual matters. James was born in West Texas and now lives
in San Antonio with two ill-behaved dogs.