The Future could be wrong. For all I know,
it could be a bowl of unripe strawberries
or a cell phone ringing to itself in an empty room,
or that mysterious Asian saying,
“A day without vegetables is like a day without vegetables.”
Step into the wrong Future
and you’re likely to find yourself humming Rascal Flats
on the sidewalks of New York. The wrong Future
could be a blinking smoke detector light on a motel ceiling,
a town where roosters crow in the distance,
some preacher saying, “From everywhere,
God rushes toward you.” Yet for all I know,
that Future’s already rented out to someone else
who can walk where I can only see:
Here’s to you, wrong Future! . . . I wanted
a life simple as reading the wind,
roads with nothing on them but me and an occasional Fed Ex truck,
but what I got was another gedanken experiment,
delays, false hopes, mournful harmonica music.
So here’s to all the wrong paths I’m about to take,
the wrong people I’ll race or stumble off with,
all my wrong-headed visions.
Here’s to salt water taffy, power lines, cross-purposes,
that sign by the Colorado meadow: Wildflowers in Progress,
how, near the end of a perfect set, the lead-guitarist says,
“Let’s take it on home”
and everything falls into place, the audience may weep,
the houselights stay dim for minutes afterwards,
then hands find each other, the way they always do.
Dick Allen was the author of several poetry collections, including Zen Master Poems, This Shadowy Place, Present Vanishing, The Day Before, and Ode to the Cold War: Poems New and Selected. He received National Endowment for the Arts and Ingram Merrill Poetry Writing Fellowships, six inclusions in The Best American Poetry annual volumes, and a Pushcart Prize, among numerous other national awards. Allen also served as the Connecticut State Poet Laureate (2010–2015), succeeding John Hollander.