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Tag Archives: lists

found poem: an ode

We found your list

found listTiny scrap of paper, crimped and stuffed into a coin pocket, works its way loose. Such a nice list, so full of clues — your sinus troubles, your upcoming trip to the ocean, your orderly thoughts angled and bulleted, your planner.

Were you sick? Is that why your head’s bothering you? why you didn’t get your paycheck? What besides lists do you write on your Aqua Notes? Do you stick them on the nose of your surfboard and scribble out poems as you await the waves? I hope someone is bringing food; you’ll be hungry, out there at the shore, stoned in the long summer twilight.

I’m sorry that you lost your list, but at least you got the dishes done.

watch…

I make lists. Always have.

George Catlin list, Amusements…Most are on the computer, but last night, when I was lying awake in the middle of the night, I was shuffling my work list in my head, trying to figure out who most needed the attention, where I could make some headway. I could see the names and moved them visually, as if they were refrigerator magnets. If I figured it out, I don’t recall; the players resumed their places and the list looks the same this morning as it did when I turned off the light last night.

My schedule is a list,
work projects a list.
Publication deadlines,
garden projects,
house projects,
movies, books,
dinner party guests,
travel destinations
(aurora borealis; eclipse; Outback; Greek isles; British Isles; Yellowstone in winter; Bali; Hawaii; migrations: cranes, caribou; New Zealand; train Canada / drive British Columbia; Spain; Newfoundland, Nova Scotia).
Not surprisingly, I maintain the family tree — really just an elaborate list.

(I used to work with a list maker. On lined yellow pads, in pencil, he would write, and rewrite, and rewrite, his dated, numbered lists in small, neat script. He kept the lists private and old ones went into a folder in a file drawer and, much later, into storage. He was an astute businessperson and in spite of his listmaking, or perhaps because of it, managed to make millions.)

Not sentimental about my lists,
I don’t keep them,
don’t copy them over by hand
unless, like shopping lists,
the old one is illegible
with crossings-out,
arrows, circled words,
and sub-lists.
In my writing,
I often string together
series of things,
with commas or ands,
small lists
to abbreviate the story:
a pointing flashlight to say
look here, now here, and here.
Many of my poems contain lists.
But (mostly) not ends in themselves,
the lists herd and corral the clutter
and let my imagination range free.

This is not a poem.
—–
George Catlin list, Amusements