Lawrence Bridges

The Pessimistic Physician 

The lawns are mowed and the great heat
has reclaimed the desert beyond our yard
that stretches miles toward Mexico and Mississippi.

I see one plum this season on our tree.
Its skin is leather – amphibian or lizard.
I hesitate to throw its pit where it won’t grow.

So down to business, professor, the genre
is a blowing box that spills its cushioning
Styrofoam to race all the tumbleweeds of the West

and broken cars and skinny horses in stick corrals
fenced on one side by double-wides.
No, it’s not Podunk poverty but poverty of leisure,

the mind’s light on, the imagination dark and wordless
like the face of a pessimistic doctor talking
to aging patients who proclaim they are the epitome of health.

Lawrence Bridges is best known for work in the film and literary world. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Tampa Review. He has published three volumes of poetry: Horses on Drums, Flip Days, and Brownwood. As a filmmaker, he created a series of literary documentaries for the NEA’s “Big Read” initiative, which include profiles of Ray Bradbury, Amy Tan, Tobias Wolff and Cynthia Ozick.