Originally published in Willow Springs 64
From the author
Notes on “O’Brian”
This poem started with a photo on flickr. I was randomly looking at photos one night (I never do that!) and came across a photo (it’s still there) of a sidewalk on which was written “WEREN’T YOU A KID ONCE O’BRIEN?” and without reading the caption (it actually turns out to be a protest against Ottawa’s mayor), I moved on. But that scrawl stayed in my head, and when I woke up the next morning, I started writing my own caption, which turned out to be this poem.
This rather chatty poem is very unusual for me (I tend toward shorter lines, simpler constructions, a breezier tone, and a lot fewer words!) and so it’s difficult for me to account for it entirely. It’s part of a new manuscript of poems called Overtures On An Overturned Piano, which explores the oft-forgotten music of the past. A father of two small children, I’m very taken with the notion that there’s a kid in every adult, and lately I’m exploring in my poems the various implications of that idea.
Notes on Reading
I’ll admit right now that I don’t read enough. I love to read, but I tend to do so only at night, before bed, and then I don’t get very far, so it’ll take me months to get through a novel. At that pace, I often lose momentum, which means my stack of unfinished novels is probably about twice as deep as my stack of finished ones. Poetry I read in daylight, usually in the morning to kickstart me, and then just a poem or two at a sitting.
Reading serves my process by lying very lightly on my consciousness. I value silence more than language, to be honest, because my poetry tends to take shape only in the long quiet spaces between whatever books I may be reading.
About Todd Boss
Todd Boss’s best-selling debut poetry collection, Yellowrocket (Norton, 2008), has enjoyed widespread critical acclaim. Todd’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, New England Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review, which awarded him the Emily Clark Balch Prize this year. His work has been syndicated on public radio’s The Splendid Table and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. His MFA is from the University of Alaska-Anchorage.