Today's poem is by Stephen Dobyns

An Artist Like Any Other

Let's say a fellow has a little trick—
he can take a rock, toss it about ten feet,

then take another, toss it so it lands on top,
then take a third and toss it on top of that

so all three make a little tower. Each rock
is about the size of a child's fist. Any bigger

or any further or if he tries a fourth, then
it doesn't work. People are impressed,

but how many times can you watch a guy
do a trick like that? Shortly they wander off.

Children last a little longer. The man's wife
asks to see it once a week just to be nice.

His kids say, Give it a break, Dad. Three
rocks twirling through the air and landing

perfectly, time after time. He never misses.
The man feels proud. He'd do it all day long

if anyone cared, but even the dog nods off.
Let's say this is some vestigial blip, like that

occasional tail that nurses snip off newborns.
Once his ancestors tossed huge boulders, built

pyramids, even Stonehenge. You wanted
something really big transported? This was

the guy to do it. How many of these leftovers
do we have left? Cave painters shrunk into

tattoo artists, epic poets whose last sparks ignite
greeting card verse. Just as some day novelists

might morph into the guys who make up menus
for greasy spoons. Today a man flips a stone,

then two more. Presto. See how they join to form
a miniature defiance of the world's natural laws,

a trifling metaphor for the enigmatic? No doubt
about it, the fellow's an artist like any other.

The neighbor's addlepated five-year-old slaps
his head in wonder. At least the first time.

Copyright © 2004 Stephen Dobyns All rights reserved
from The Greensboro Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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