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Accidents of Attention
What is in these accidents of attention
More than a fate one might choose. (I cannot
Ever trust a theologian without a beret,)
Never mind the advertisements memorized in school.
The gains however do not cancel the losses.
There is demurrage, the old railroad auditor’s
Term for rent owed on delayed rolling stock
Left empty on a spur of the line. Where is
That unchosen one with that other life?
Say the gap widens or it comes together,
Like obvious railroad tracks, always finally.
Like the ones I walked home from school,
In the backsides of warehouses, risking a trestle
And the afternoon train down from Chicago.
Friend, reader at this very moment, think on
Momentary revelations, when you knew almost
Faces of your self, as if accidents of attention,
Were good as decisive moments. Another life
Hangs in the balance and which one is it to die for.
Auden is right, “Injustice is the hell of childhood,”
But Calvinist porn passes time till time to repent.
And then no-face comes along, plus something else,
Perhaps accidentally, but you know mercy cannot be
summoned deliberately. It comes with abjectivity.
between moments out of time and mortal longueurs,
Insolent to what all tangles being in itself. Ergo,
The only freedom is in mercy. We’d best believe
Some accidents are good as sacred. Better.
Gordon Osing is retired from the writing program at the University of Memphis and lives now lakeside in Delta bluffs woods in Eudora, Mississippi, where he is continuing his career in reading and writing and traveling. The River City Writers Series, that he began some thirty-five years ago at the University of Memphis, is still thriving. He sees himself in a continuation of the works of the Southern Modernists, holding language in poetry as re-contextualized, and the poem as artifact with its own protocols and reasons, the ways and means of a poem’s attachments to “truth” belonging peculiarly to poetry.