“Examined Life” by Charles Harper Webb

Charles Harper Webb


My skin’s the perfect temperature.
My pajamas fit exactly right.
No bed-wrinkle makes me shift

or twitch. Too bad my bladder
is so tight it shoves me out of bed.
When I get back, sleep’s water-jar still

barely balanced on my head,
my wife’s coming awake
the way a coral reef rises with a falling

tide. As our son rattles his crib
in the next room, she slides away.
Observe you’re comfortable,

and comfort decays. Beside our bed,
blinds start to clack. Cold wind
whips trash around the chambers

of my head. The Ego sighs,
and pulls its flannel work-shirt on.
The Superego sweeps the floor.

“Why bother?” growls the Id.
“What’s in it for me?” “Pipe down,”
I say, and split the drapes.

Psyche examined Love; it fled.
Outside, rain darts though gusts
of visibility.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006


Charles Harper Webb: “When I was sixteen, playing in rock bands and preparing to become a physicist, if someone had said, ‘You’ll end up a poet,’ I’d have assumed they’d end up swinging a rubber hoe on the funny farm. Now I find I’ve written poems for more than half of my life. So why (besides the groupies and big bucks) do I persist? For one thing, I hope to give to others some of the pleasure that good poems have given me. But I also want to wring more out of the time that I have left—to live, whenever I can, with my awareness, intelligence, and imagination fully engaged. Poetry does that for me.” (web)


Charles Harper Webb is the guest on Rattlecast #37. Click here to watch!

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