For 18 years, my new year’s resolution
has been to publish a book. Cross that one
off the list. Now what do I do with myself?
The lights in the hallway still don’t work.
My body keeps auditioning to play the part of a poem.
Doesn’t it know how bad I am at revising,
how I throw away more poems than I fix,
how I write reams of rubbish and generally
flub my way into moments of luck?
And it wants the part? Listen, body,
I’m not very good at this. But it’s snowing.
And the mind is beautiful when she’s quiet.
And if you’re lonely in that spinal hell, know
that I spent most of those 18 years oiling your gears,
massaging your joints and ordering ointments,
believing in magic, that old byproduct of song.
Body, I hear you singing to yourself sometimes,
and I cry. Keep singing, friend,
and if, when you come to the end of your years,
you hear a little roar and you wonder what that noise is,
I’ll tell you: it’s the sound of me cheering you on.
Ricky Ray is a disabled poet, critic, essayist, and the founding editor of Rascal: A Journal of Ecology, Literature and Art. He is the author of Fealty (Diode Editions, 2019), Quiet, Grit, Glory (Broken Sleep Books, 2020), and The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020). His awards include the Cormac McCarthy Prize, the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize, and a Liam Rector fellowship.
Ricky’s work appears widely in periodicals and anthologies, including The American Scholar, Verse Daily, Diode Poetry Journal and The Moth. He was educated at Columbia University and the Bennington Writing Seminars, and lives on the outskirts of the Hudson Valley, where he can be found hobbling in the old green hills with his old brown dog, Addie.