Don’t open that door


Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time worrying about the future. I hate when the future barrels up to me with something unpleasant. I like to have anticipated it in my worst-case-scenario-izing, to have braced myself for the impact. I bring new meaning to the phrase “future tense.” I’ve read that the language of Hopi has no way to reflect the endless parsing of time that we are obsessed with: our “just a second”s and “ten minutes later”s and “24/7″s. They think and speak of time as a cyclical continuous stream. Does that mean that for them the future is just a bit of a whole bunch of yesterdays with some today thrown in? How can one worry in that language? Poet Robert Peake has been having some fun studying the commonly used words in today’s Western poetry by analyzing poems from Poetry Magazine. Turns out the most frequently used word in those poems is “time.” But I wonder what analysis of the most common verb tense would reveal? Are we still past-obsessed? Are we tomorrow-focused? I have a friend who speaks seemingly uncommonly often in the “should have,” “could have,” “would have” construct. (I don’t know if she actually uses those tenses more than most people or if it’s just that she persists in conjugating them incorrectly that calls my attention to it.) I’m grateful though, because talking with her is a reminder to me of how I do NOT want to dwell in the woulda world. What tense is my poetry furled around? I fear these days I’m forward-falling, and fearful for it. Oh no. What will happen?


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