A Minor Talent

What attention comes his way
is sufficient only to enflame
He arrives at rage
as easily as water boils
un-watched, and talking to tools
leads to throwing them
the blame for inadequate show:
the paintbrush muddy, the wood wormy
his words corny
A neighbour offers
gormless pleasantries about work
that took his days, and weeks
and now, he looks, he sees
weakness piled and made to stand
from will-force, and nothing new

A minor talent
boosts himself above his street
at least, beyond both sides
—but when he ranges
farther, then he stops
comes back to that low room
where he prays he’ll meet
coming down the stairs the other one
who might, once, twice, walk
through clutter and the past
to touch his sucked-in cheek
and raise him from the dead of
being ordinary
and content to watch
genius make the joining
of task and breath
that he cannot, he strikes out
each day to quell his dread
unable to leave alone the little bit
he knows, the best—the beast
he’s been given

Questions and Answers

About “A Minor Talent”:

When asked about my writing, I am sometimes reminded of this comment by Michael Ondatjee’s in Transitions III: Poetry (CommCept Publishing, 1978): “What I believed or felt when I wrote these poems is obviously not what I believe or feel now. One little nuance, one little image, and everything changes.”

This poem “A Minor Talent” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 188 (Spring 2006): 85.

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