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Published: Fri Oct 15 1999
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

What, copy by hand an entire book
Remy de Gourmet’s Le Latin Mystique
three hundred and fifty pages
like Cendrars did?
Revise a manuscript again and again
starting from scratch each time
until a guest room won’t hold the pages?
Or, and it’s entirely not my line,
crunch numbers and read codes
from morning through dinner to midnight
day after day and earn hundreds of thousands
to spend on watches and first class flights
to Paris for the weekend?
Give me a chair, not too comfortable,
a fire at my back when the wind blows
out of the northeast as it has all day,
a notebook and a fountain pen
for the scherzo it makes with the paper,
and the dogs to walk when I need
a break or am stymied.
Lunch at one followed by the daily papers,
they come that late to Northern Vermont,
a drink at six then wine with dinner is perfect
for prose at least.
Poetry abides no schedule,
has to be paid on demand, in full.

See what's inside AGNI 50

William Corbett (1942–2018) was an American poet, essayist, editor, and publisher. He served as a contributing editor of AGNI for many years.

Corbett’s New & Selected Poems was reviewed in AGNI 43 by Michael Palmer.

Corbett’s memoir Furthering My Education was reviewed in AGNI 46 by Jeff Galbraith.

Corbett’s New York Literary Lights was reviewed in AGNI 48 by Jim Behrle.

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