The little boy in the shark fin hat
Stalks through the shelves at the library
Hunting for stories instead of minnows
And gulping down trivia whole.
Tamara cries when you bring her a brownie,
A corner piece, just like she likes them,
Because she thought nobody ever noticed.
The old man at the copy machine
Bellows and curses the staff as incompetent.
He just doesn’t want to say
He’s alone in world that’s no longer his own.
People are scared of beauty
Because it means God is real.
So they ignore the flute player in the corner
Or complain to the management that she is intrusive
Because no one likes to think
That beauty is realer than they are.
There are some people who can’t stand silence
So they talk all the time,
When really they’re just afraid
Of what they’ll hear in their own head.
I see you in the sunlight laughing behind the leaves
casting everything golden.
I see you in the color of the sky in the early
October morning; pale, crisp,
bespeaking wind and distant storms
above blazing trees.
I hear you in the river and the laughter
My eyes search the crowd
but never find your face.
My hand reaches through the darkness,
but never finds yours.
It is like you stand always behind me,
just out of sight and reach.
I can feel your eyes on my back,
but when I turn, you turn
keeping always out of sight;
your steps, the click of your boot heels,
in perpetual dance with mine,
moving as I move,
flowing through my existence,
around my dying flesh,
as I spin and spin in search of you.
Maybe I do not spin.
Maybe it is only the world
whirling its dervish
through time and space
as you stand behind me, still,
watching its performance
as it sways drunkenly
from season to season.
The swirl of colors and time
dizzy me, until you command
me to be still.
I kneel, my head
tilting and crackling,
not knowing whether it is gravity
holding me or the sound of your voice.
Vocalissimus, save me.
I am lost.
Master, I am lost.
You are all that holds me
in this wild world,
the only reason I do not fear
what is behind me
in the darkness.
I know it is you.
I cannot see the light glinting
off your steel and gold,
nor the fire
girding you in sashes of red,
but I feel you with me
as I feel the wind.
You are the wind, my love,
in your castle of light.
The castle of dreams
behind the veil
of a shadowed world.
Your roar is a whisper,
your whisper a trumpet,
the brazen chord
through the fading light.
I hear you, maestro,
I hear you calling in the woods
and the hills
over a distant horizon.
Your fingers play with my hair
Tangling and untangling,
I feel the rush of you over my skin,
over me, through me,
and you tell me, “It will be alright.”
Your voice echoes in the cavern
of my being and the well
of my soul,
the bell that calls men
to arms, and sings of death
and birth and peace.
There you toll, in me
Your light grows as I grow,
you sing as I sing.
And all is well
in the halls of the wind.
What do we do with an entire life?
What a vast ocean of time
In which to do nothing.
And what a glorious revelation
To know that nothing is at the core
Of all our ambitions.
The voice of God
Is in the creaking wicker
Of a porch swing swaying in the wind
With no one sitting on it.
Is there anything more inviting?
Is there anything more lonely?
The raindrops play on my window pane
And gossip about the old days.
One was a river, another the sea,
And one once played as a tear.
The sky is just a reflection of us.
All those stars are just mirrors
For all the souls looking up and dreaming,
And all those worlds we think are out there
All exist in us.
There’s a pebble on the shore of Rehoboth Beach
That came from one of Jupiter’s moons.
But nobody knows it.
And it would rather be part of a sand castle anyway.
[Notes of the Day are short poems or a few poetic lines, kept together in a single ongoing poetry document.]
The most real things are the most unseen,
they swirl and eddy in little small laughs,
for anyone who has seen leaves swirl in a courtyard
will never say the wind is not real.
The leaves are green again.
Funny how, in winter, one forgets
what the color green looks like,
and in the summer, the skeletal
silhouettes of nude branches
are nothing but fading dreams.
Day by day, the sunflower sprouts,
and turns toward the sun in jealous admiration.
And day by day the blossom feels inadequate,
until it bows with the weight
of everything it achieved
while striving to be something else.
No one knows what the color black looks like
because it hides behind everything else,
and sits in the dark where no one can see it.
If only it were the same with the little dark fears
that try to graffiti black all over my brain.
There is nothing so graceful
as a feather falling.
It loops and glides and skis its way
down to the earth on little ribbons of air
because it served its purpose
and now knows what it’s like to be free.
We walked among the trees together,
hand in hand, in slow synchronized steps.
The trunks rose like columns in some ancient temple
and the leaves glittered and shone with gilded edges.
These are your trees, and you know them
as well as your own children. You know
the paths among them well enough to walk them blind,
and no matter how far we wander,
I never fear getting lost as long as you keep my hand.
We walk along the riverbank,
and swirl our bare feet in the clear water;
it rushes over our skin like cold satin.
You settle at the base of your favorite tree,
resting among its labyrinthine roots like a king,
and you watch me, silent, with eyes more inviting than fire.
I obey and join you there, leaning my back
against the smooth grey bark and turning my eyes up
into the boughs, catching flashes of sun through the wind.
Your pale fingers work over my knee,
as if you were strumming a mandolin on my leg,
while you confess all the things you have seen,
all the roads you have ridden, and the lives
that you took. A soldier’s regret, a conqueror’s pride.
My small life must seem petty compared to yours,
but you ask about it anyway.
There’s such a quietness in your hands,
and your voice is as soothing as ocean waves;
it is hard for me to imagine how you can roar,
and snuff out a man as easily as a frail flickering candle.
You are the wind and I but a leaf,
but the trees have proven that the touch of the wind
and the movement of leaves makes a whispering choir
that puts angels to shame. And there in the shade,
you look up to say you are closer to heaven
when you are with me.
A response to English 295: Intro to Literary Theory
A story isn’t meant
to be taken out of its comfortable pages
and reprinted a hundred times
on clinical white paper.
A story isn’t meant
to be captured, beaten
and pinned down to a desk
with pens and cut open
with the razors of analysis.
You cannot slice it apart
and rifle through its entrails and syntax
and hope to cut the heart out of it.
You can, I suppose, do these things,
if your goal is to kill a story,
for nothing kills a story like
a magnifying glass and a roomful
of literary “experts” with their
red pens, critical theories, and cheap wine.
There the story withers away,
sitting awkwardly on their tables,
naked, vulnerable, exposed and anxious,
like some terrified patient who
watches the physician snap on those white gloves.
How would you like it if someone
grabbed you off the shelf that is your bed
tore off your covers and hauled you, naked,
out into the cold air and glaring lights?
Would you want to impart your secrets
to someone who would treat you that way?
If you want to know a story
and the secrets that it holds,
you must woo those delicate pages.
You must approach it gently
with tender hands
and carry it home with you.
There you must make yourself vulnerable to it,
settle down in a cozy place,
perhaps a chair by the sea, a chaise by the fire, or even your bed.
If you read with sincerity, the story will not recoil from you.
Instead, it will pull you closer
with inviting lines of fine-penned ink.
And as you lie together,
the story may rest its head upon your shoulder,
and whisper a meaning in your ear.
Tell me, love, where does the sun go when it’s dark?
Does it go into the sea, where all the lost embittered tears have taken rest?
Does it go beyond the veil of life and death,
perchance to shine upon the dead while all the living sleep?
If I could chase that drop of light over the edge of the world
what would I find? Would there be trees, rivers and grass?
Butterflies and sunflowers? Another world beyond my own,
that knows no time or pain? Who would await me on that shore?
Would it be you, love? Is that the place you’re calling from?
I have heard your voice so long, sometimes I forget
it does not come from here, but there.
Perhaps you are Apollo, and ride the light of my world away
into your own. What do you see there? Who do you meet?
Have you seen my grandfathers, my mother’s grandmother, or
my great aunt who was famous for fire? Do you see the children
of my children, yet unborn and waiting, eager, for their time
to burst into my world? Whomever you see, I ask you only:
tell them I love them, whenever they are, wherever they are,
whoever they were or yet shall be. I love them as I love you,
as I love my mother and my father, my cousins and friends,
as I love God Himself. My heart can feel the pull of their love
through the whisper of yours. Perhaps that is all we are,
just drops within an endless ocean made up of love,
forever shifting, pulsing, melding in the existence of each other.