I learned early on what it meant to work and what it meant, that thing about money. Wasn’t it a basic fact of life? There were also questions about sex and how it fit in with writing poetry, but those were not in the economic order.
My days back then were governed by order. I got up regularly and went to work. At night, or at dawn, I wrote poetry. I never tried too much for money, although I knew I needed it, like sex, to balance gyroscopically my life.
What did it mean to lead a good life, and what did we give up for order? My friends admitted that drive-thru sex did not go on forever – only work, that quest for meaning and money. Few spoke, ever, about poetry.
I tried, always, to write poetry, a bad call in the arc of a life when it came to questions of money, and I tried to man the walls of order, but often it did not work. As a consolation, there was always sex.
What did I even know about sex? Well, a bit, and a lot about poetry, and I found a way to make them work so that my life was a good life down here in the natural order. Please don’t ask about the money.
What did I even know about money? I had a bachelor’s degree in Sex with a minor in Meaning and Order and an MFA from Oberlin in Poetry. Was that, then, the art and scope of my life – sex, poetry, student debt, and work?
Well, I did work and make some money, but life, mine anyway, was more about sex, poetry, and dealing with disorder.
* This poem came about after Moira Egan and I challenged each other to write a sestina using these particular end words. Other poets have joined in, each working on their own sestina, each relying on the same teleutons.