Upon Not Attending
the Writers’ Colony in France

How refreshing, not to relax on the terrace
beneath the 900-year-old beams of the bastide,
not extol nature’s glorious sunset,

to not drink the local wine with old friends
and strangers. No name, rank, genre,
no frayed war stories, no rubbing

of the dull trophies.
How invigorating not to listen,
from my high room, the owl of midnight,

river dissecting valley, and presume
they speak to me, me alone, as I comb the hours
for meaning, take scoop and shovel

to my own darkness, try to serve it up
again, inky black. How inspiring not to wake
clear-headed, purposeful, and hike the green hills

in hunt for wild boar, chapter, and verse.
How rejuvenating, that is, to sit here dull
at my scarred desk, in our house already

showing its age, out the window
to see nothing but the garage needing a coat
of stain, hear no song but a simple-minded wren.

Mug of cold coffee at hand, how fine
my deepest thought concerning whether Lucy’s
down the hall in the living room,

lightly asleep on her pillow or, perhaps,
beneath the end table next to my chair,
white fur in need of a brushing I’m here to give.

Gaylord Brewer is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where he founded and for more than 20 years edited the journal Poems & Plays. His most recent books are the cookbook-memoir The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire (Stephen F. Austin, 2015) and a tenth collection of poetry, The Feral Condition (Negative Capability, 2018).