Layabout

By John Brehm b. 1955 John Brehm
Do nothing and everything will be done,   
that's what Mr. Lao Tzu said, who walked   
around talking 2,500 years ago and   

now his books practically grow on trees   
they're so popular and if he were   
alive today beautiful women would

rush up to him like waves lapping   
at the shores of his wisdom.   
That's the way it is, I guess: humbling.

But if I could just unclench my fists,   
empty out my eyes, turn my mind into   
a prayer flag for the wind to play with,

we could be brothers, him the older one   
who's seen and not done it all and me   
still unlearning, both of us slung low

in our hammocks, our hats tipped   
forwards, hands folded neatly,   
like bamboo huts, above our hearts.

Source: Poetry (June 2001).

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

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June 2001
 John  Brehm

Biography

John Brehm was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and educated at the University of Nebraska and Cornell University. He is the author of Sea of Faith, which won the 2004 Brittingham Prize, and Help Is on the Way (2012), winner of the Four Lakes Prize from the University of Wisconsin Press. In the Georgia Review, Judith Kitchen praised Sea of Faith for its “unified consistency of tone and sophistication of approach,” remarking that the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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