Editor’s Note: Fingers strolling along the spines of poetry books on my over-full shelves, I found the book I was seeking right away, and next to it a slim, blue volume — pulled out just to see what it was, since I didn’t recognize it immediately.
So today I bring you a poem called “Instead,” from a slim volume of the same title by David Lunde, who retired to the Oregon coast after a prolific life of publishing, teaching, writing — instead of a poem by the poet I’d first intended (who shall remain nameless for now, since I’ll certainly use one of those later).
Do you collect random books of poetry from workshops and bookstores and writers’ conferences, as I do, and tuck them away only partly read, to stand uprightly waiting on the shelf for a change-of-season day when they whisper to you, “choose me instead?”
I hope so. So much joy comes from such happy meetings! May your days be bright and delicious.
Instead of writing this poem
I could have poisoned cabbage worms
in the garden, assassinated aphids
with a handy, multipurpose agent
invented by the Germans in World War II;
I could have attended the Democratic picnic,
barbecued my mustache
and played Frisbee with the old farts;
I could have explained once again
to my neighbor that it’s not the Kiwanis
itself — I’m sure they’re a fine bunch
of leisure suits — I’m just not
a joiner; I could have strolled
downtown for The New York Times
in my bathrobe and slippers
not giving a good goddamn
what the churchgoers thought
and spent all Sunday reading it;
but instead, here I am again
wasting my time on you.
1. What did you do this weekend “instead?”
2. Is there something you have explained in answer to others that you seem to have to answer again and again?
3. Write about a time when you wrote a poem “instead” of doing something else.