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Bad Day

Not every day
is a good day
for the elfin tailor.
Some days
the stolen cloth
reveals what it 
was made for:
a handsome weskit
or the jerkin
of an elfin sailor.
Other days
the tailor
sees a jacket
in his mind
and sets about
to find the fabric.
But some days
neither the idea
nor the material
presents itself;
and these are 
the hard days
for the tailor elf.

—Kay Ryan

From Say Uncle, 2000
Grove/Atlantic, Inc

Copyright 2000 Kay Ryan.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc. Copyright 2000 by Kay Ryan. For further permissions information, contact Mary Flower, Grove/Atlantic Inc., 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, permissions@groveatlantic.com.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Kay Ryan was born in 1945 in San Jose, California, and grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. Her father was an oil well driller and sometime-prospector. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1971, Ryan has lived in Marin County. Her partner of 30 years is Carol Adair.

For more than 30 years, Ryan limited her professional responsibilities to the part-time teaching of remedial English at the College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif., thus leaving much of her life free for "a lot of mountain bike riding plus the idle maunderings poets feed upon." She said at one point that she has never taken a creative writing class, and in a 2004 interview in The Christian Science Monitor, she noted, "I have tried to live very quietly, so I could be happy."

Learn more about Kay Ryan at The Poetry Foundation