Monthly Archives: February 2005

At the Wishing Well

I wish that I could still believe the lines
that feed the young and nourish childhood dreams,
the reassurance everything is fine
despite the raging chaos it may seem.

I wish the world would confirm to my will
when I am sure the course the world should take,
but what I want to move often stays still,
convincing me such wishes are mistakes.

I wish the course of my life was less blurred,
and that the path ahead was much more clear.
But often truth and logic are obscured,
and what seems plain is not what it appears.

I wish that the religion of my youth,
the vanity of hope I held so dear,
would have ten years ago revealed the truth:
that who you are is not found in the mirror.

I wish, and then for wishing want an end;
instead of dreams, to just touch solid ground,
and in this world, that often seems pretend,
to be at peace with what small things I’ve found.

But wishing is a habit hard to shake,
a tool that serves its purpose for a while,
resisting all attempts one tries to break
its hold, to seek for substance rather than its style.

I wish instead of wishing to just be,
and in that state to become without fear;
to loose the chains of whimsy and stand free.
When faced with being, seeming disappears.

26 FEB 2005

Share This:

The Thread That Holds

The thread that fasts the edges of the fabric
to link the warp and woof which forms our life
is tenuous, at best – so thin and fragile.
This tapestry we take so much for granted,
whose boundaries extend to memory’s end,
is but a million of these strands and slivers.

That it remains a whole is quite surprising,
considering how little work it takes
to cause a snag, or worry loose a seam.
The pattern fades, and shows its age in places
where time and stress have worn through either side;
through these holes often come epiphanies:

it’s where the surface thins and turns transparent,
that life beyond our isolated realm
makes faint connection to our sense of known.
In those quite rare and brief enlightened moments,
true balance becomes difficult to find;
despite the danger, we must seek the edge

and look to the abyss that lies beyond,
to find within ourselves the fabric’s mending,
or pulling that loose thread, unravel all.
Because in truth, we are just as connected
(despite the separate spools from which we start)
as those fine strands of nothing in themselves;

and can together form a thing of beauty
beyond the ken of isolated minds.
If just an inch is lost, we are no more.

24 FEB 2005

Share This:

Dirty Water

When I try to convince someone that my way is better than theirs, I don’t stand there and tell them their glass is dirty, and as a result they’re drinking dirty water. I just stand quietly, drinking my clear water from a sparkling clean glass, and let them draw their own conclusions. — Malcolm X, paraphrased

for Malcolm Little

We still drink dirty water
although forty years have passed,
and despite decades of struggle
have yet to be free at last

from the misguided notions
that served us to some degree,
but lay the blame at our own feet
at our hypocrisy

Equality? That’s just a word
that draws the softer vote;
and even then, you hear it catch
in politician’s throats

when they survey the ghetto
from inside their limousines
on their way to a better home
than most have ever seen.

It’s more than just a color bar
that splits this land apart.
There’s a flaw in our base logic
that divides the mind and heart:

if we don’t believe we’re equal,
at the core built just the same,
then what good are politicians,
save for dividing the blame?

If we simply clean our glasses,
but still draw from dirty wells,
the sole use for spit and polish
is reflecting the same hell.

23 JAN 2005

Share This:

Goodnight for Gonzo

for Hunter S. Thompson

A life in isolation breeds its own brand of malaise,
that the respected classes just ignore
and seek instead on worthless causes to heap shame or praise,
with their good sense, naming such moods a bore.

The paranoia of the underdog they call a sham,
not worthy of their time, a waste of ink;
the causes that disturb the peace are just not worth a damn,
or dangerous, if they make people think.

And who would dare innoculate the tough, unfeeling side
of such a beast, except a man possessed
with his own brand of madness and a sense of civic pride,
when noticing the emperor’s undress?

Beyond the limits of good sense, and often at great risk
(where reputations are built on mere whim)
who is to say where genius crosses into wild hubris?
The line between the two is faint, and slim.

But madmen are the world’s redemption; there amidst the cracks
in grand facades, under its public face,
they toil to bring to our ennui the honesty it lacks,
and see beyond our masks, to our disgrace.

When leaders bend reality to disguise or deceive,
cloak their ill intentions with a winning smile,
despite volumes of evidence they cannot be believed,
are any sane who hold back on their bile?

Too many sane, respected souls stand silent and do naught,
while freedom, trust and liberty are sold.
It is the madmen, in these times, whose minds cannot be bought,
that shock us into breaking from the fold.

They ask why should such things take place, in language coarse and rough,
and whisper their dissension in our ear.
What’s more, they make us wonder if we’re paranoid enough,
or numbed by false pretense and hollow fear.

Truth lies somewhere past the lines that we’ve been taught to see,
those boundaries of someone else’s dreams.
Too often, we accept as gospel such insanity
that even madness is not what it seems.

21 FEB 2005

Share This:

A Path of Wildness

I chose to walk a path of wildness;
though these modern city streets are paved
and seem to revel in a blindness
that believes the urban sprawl has saved
us from what nature could remind us:

somewhere beneath all this black and gray,
behind the masks that progress may wear
as it fumbles through lines of a play
it has not written, and does not care
to find meaning in what those words say,

there is an rough edge to our control.
Beyond that border the feral earth,
that patient presses diamonds from coal,
in each single instant gives birth
to the strange chaos that feeds our souls.

Where the sidewalk ends and turns to vine
is never clearly marked on a chart;
and your map is not the same as mine,
even if we would pretend to start
from the same place at an exact time.

What’s more, both paths may appear the same
(if anyone still took time to look)
and like gods often bearing false names
to confuse those who insist on books,
will merge at times; they are not to blame.

Instead, it is our pride that deceives;
we do not seek to balance, but rule,
and as a despot king we believe
our road divine, and others for fools
unfit to share the glory we perceive.

But it is there; the wildness can’t be tamed,
nor trimmed and manicured for too long
before it tires of such polite games
and flexes its muscles, lean and strong,
to escape the gilded picture frame.

I would go after, where it now stalks
amidst the dark, thickened underbrush;
sometimes just at dawn I hear it walk
right under my open window. Hush!
Can you hear it too? It likes my block.

18 FEB 2005

Share This:


I will never deconstruct another poem
in search of hidden metaphor, by line
eviscerating some writer’s creation
to satisfy some professor of mine.

These exercises do not help the reader
connect to what is said, or truly why
in given circumstance one word is better,
or how one’s own perspective may supply

a wealth of connotations beyond measure.
Too many now who read seek just what caters
to their limits of taste or frame of mind;
and would have poets soft and built for leisure.
Why use the stairs, when there are elevators?
Because some things are NOT a waste of time.

17 FEB 2005

Share This:

Between Something Worth Saying and a Voice to Say It With

One of the biggest personal challenges I face as a poet is striking a balance between form and function, or between pose and purpose.

What I mean by this is that as an artist progresses in their technical ability, in their experience with the creative process, and in the journey of self-discovery that ultimately results in maturity (or vintage) as an artist, we often say they have found “their voice”. To experience someone who has found their voice is to listen to the sound of a tree, to know that what sound comes from them originates from unseen roots in the soles of their feet and radiates upward and outward. Such voices rumble with a kind of authority that masterfully, yet without effort, blends the personal and the universal into a single stream of consciousness that, even if you don’t agree with the flow, you cannot help but be affected by when you hear it. Some artists never quite achieve that level of sophistication (although sophistication is not exactly the right word here), and you can sense it. They put on a great show, and to most observers they appear to be something quite special. But to other poets, I think, the distinction between a Voice and a Stage Whisper is apparent. A lot of people sham at having a Voice. They speak as if they had one, or as if trying to convince others they are someplace at which they have not yet arrived.

The problem is, of course, that the destination changes. And like any relationship, the voice and the words it finds to speak are often troubled by the little things. The two questions, “where am I going?” and “who am I going with?” always seem to be asked in the wrong order. As a result, the line between message and medium is often blurred, or lost altogether. I don’t think, for example, that Sylvia Plath’s intention was to inspire legions of pale, depressed, overwrought and hyper-sensitive ingenues who dwelt forever in the house of sadness and tragedy. Or that TS Eliot really wished for everyone who followed in his footsteps to mimic his worst traits (overbearing and perhaps a bit poncy and academic) and somehow forget his playful side. But that’s the way it goes, particularly when those who TEACH poetry approach it from an academic standpoint and by necessity must focus on only a small part of an entire persona in order to come up with a punchline for their Doctoral theses.

More to come later.

Share This: