What Is Best

How John Ruskin loathed that the rain
drove those so-Romantic poets to write
about the dregs of their despair, missed
moments, lost loves, altering nature to fit their idle
musings, and so, on this luminous morning,
I vow to be deeply unhappy

because, as we know, being happy
is hackney, overrated and it rains
a great deal in Great Britain, making mourning
a natural state if you liked to write
poems how and when Wordsworth did, idly
wandering through Wales’ picturesque mist.

Unlucky at love or money, poor health, missed
boats – Aeschylus said, call no man happy
until he is dead
. Only then can the soul idle
without strife. Do you think it rains
a great deal in Greece? Those who write
(with only one cup of coffee in the morning)

(near a coast) spend time mourning
the loss of time as the marine layer’s mist
retreats too slowly to the sea, a rite
of passage for the weather, here. Oh, happy
day! When it seems wholly possible to rein
in – when the sun makes its cameo – idle

thoughts of sorrow that flaw our idyll,
if you exile them first thing in the morning,
take the winged chariot by the reins
and remind yourself not of what you’ve missed
but what you’ve managed. Happiness
(pursuit of) supposedly an inalienable right

versus privilege, and though I prefer being right
I spend most nights and days in the idle
pursuit of wrongness. Albert Schweitzer said happiness
requires a bad memory. As far as this morning
goes, I can’t remember what I ate – oh, I missed
breakfast altogether, I think. And it rained.

I don’t know whether we’ve a right to be happy
but in the rain, it is best to be idle.
I’m damn cheerful in a nice morning mist.

Patty Seyburn has published three books of poems: Hilarity (New Issues Press, 2009), Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). Her poems have recently been published in Boston Review, DIAGRAM and Hotel Amerika. She is an Associate Professor at California State University, Long Beach and co-editor of POOL: A Journal of Poetry (www.poolpoetry.com). She recently won a 2011 Pushcart Prize for her poem, “The Case for Free Will,” published in Arroyo Literary Review.