A poem is never finished; it’s merely abandoned.
The composite leather pebbles
of a basketball and the words
of an abandoned poem – neither
are noticed at first – but the fusion
and flow of all rolls off the tips
of fingers and tongues. In the split
second after wrist is flexed and rim
is missed or met, poets and players
waver as leather splashes mesh,
as mailed-months-ago vacated verse
is rejected via form letter for a contest.
Auden says: Now is the age of anxiety,
so writers, like basketball players, only
continue their follow-through the moment
the poem is out of their hands. A pass,
word, shot or idea will come along
replacing the old, the perceived-to-be-wrong,
and lines on paper and hardwood will wait
to be filled with the scribbling of pen
and the squeaking of Nike’s again.
Born and raised in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Cameron Conaway is now a graduate student and the Poet-in-Residence at the University of Arizona’s MFA Creative Writing Program.