By Michael Sharkey

Cavafy began to describe it,
and gave it away halfway through.

Boredom grows intimate; something like aging,
or torture you learn how to do by yourself,

being victim and jailer, observer, and lacking
the will or the wit to try letting it slip.

How do you live with it?
Time when you stop to ease into it,

let something else have the work to keep moving.
Nothing to gain from it, nowhere to go with it you haven’t been.

Hopeless to wait for relief in a nightclub or bar:
boredom is portable, loves to go travelling,

looking at snaps of Cologne or the Bund or the plage;
turn around: home again.  Guess who’s come with you,

what has moved into your unfurnished head.
Listless as essays left over for marking,

boredom stands by, idly picking its nails.
Ready? calls boredom, flopped in the sun:

Lounging in plazas, yawning in classrooms,
Coming, it calls to you, ready or not.