In Praise of Failure in My Seventh Decade

J.P. White
| poetry


Today I went looking for a word
but it did not come looking for me
so we remained lost to one another.
I’ve not given up on what it might offer,
the same way I won’t give up on a tattoo
repeating its message from beneath a sleeve
that balloons next to me at the café.
Look, I lived long enough to know
when you seek something out, mostly
you only find the restless ghost of it
and not the thing it once was,
but someone has to keep failing
to catch it with a pen or sword,
failing to hear the meadow and sky
of its earlier travels, failing the splendor,
the ragged scar, someone has to hold
the loose page and wait out the night
and the next day, hoping this one word
will open the door and step through.

J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews, and poetry in many places including The Nation, The New Republic, Gettysburg Review, AGNI, Catamaran, APR, North American Review, Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, The Massachusetts Review, Water-Stone, The New York Times, Willow Springs, Crazyhorse, and Poetry. He is the author of five books of poems and a novel, Every Boat Turns South. He is also the editor-at-large for Plant-Human Quarterly.

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