#376: Poem on April 2, 2021

Happy 2nd of April, friends, and the second day of National Poetry Month. The sun is out. And after a full day of looking at a computer screen, teaching kids and grading their work from a distance, and spewing imaginary lectures to recalcitrant seniors in IB English, I had to take a break. I sat outside in the back yard holding what I would like to say was a cherished notebook but in reality was a stupid smart phone, and with today’s prompt from Napowrimo in my head, I began using voice-to-text to compose a poem. You can’t tell the microphone to make a line break–I mean, you can, but the phrase “make a line break” would be scattered all over your poem. So I ended up with a nice block of text that I could turn, and have turned, into lines–once I got back behind a computer screen. We must suffer, at least a little bit, for our art. Without further ado, here’s the NaPoWriMo prompt:

“In the world of well-known poems, maybe there’s no gem quite so hoary as Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about your own road not taken – about a choice of yours that has “made all the difference,” and what might have happened had you made a different choice.”

And here’s the poem:

Poem on April 2

I could have had a career managing a
7-Eleven. No kidding. I could have
lived out of a van and toured as a musician
all year round. Maybe, I could have
been a rock star.
I could have never married.
I could have waited to get married
until I was an adult,
or at least, more of one.
I could have become a father
before I was an adult,
or at least, less of one.
I could have chosen not to be a father.
One large swerving or even
a small tiny move along the way
and my son may never have been born
or some other kid may have been born
in his stead. Some accident, or some
significant nudge this way or that
might have changed
everything and I would never
have known the difference.
Two roads diverged in a wood.
I could have taken the road less traveled,
the rougher one, the rockier, the riskier one,
but in actual fact, it never occurred to me
that I was choosing between roads.
There seemed to be one road
and I was just going down that road.
Nietzsche said that free will is an error.
My choices, even the bad ones,
even the utterly stupid choices I have made,
everything I have done or did not do
brought me right here. And again,
Nietzsche might have said that
I could not have acted otherwise.
And, I’ll be damned, I think:
he would have been right, again.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

2 thoughts on “#376: Poem on April 2, 2021

  1. You CAN make a line break while dictating text (at least on the iphone). You just say, “new line” and it will go to the next line. Magic!! Parentheses, tho’, whole different thing. 😃

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