My blood is thinned from summer’s passion;
where I once could stand
the chill of winter’s disposition,
now I am unmanned
by this untimely season;
and the harvest I once sought
I find now sells for such a price
it won’t be quickly bought.
So I who once was drowning
in the glow of love, find drought;
and you, who I thought my soul’s twin,
decide to do without
what I believed was mother’s milk,
and manna from above:
my life as sow’s ear, turned to silk
with the touch of your love.
For years I sought you out, I thought
to win love, like a prize;
but found a bitter-sweet reward:
just laughter, in your eyes,
where I found nothing but regret
for all those wasted years
I spent in search of some ideal
to best both lust, and fear.
Such fantasies may feed and grow
but offer nothing real;
they hide what you already know
in shadows, and conceal
the simple truth as your time wanes
in frivolous pursuit,
and as you near the harvest
leave just rotted, bitter fruit.
So what is love? What do I know?
I thought myself immune,
but strangely find September
feels alive and much like June;
and you, who I imagined just
one half of my extreme,
have turned into the one I must
both have and hold, and dream.
for Pietro Speroni
27 SEP 2009
What conversation would you like rejoined,
pretending that no years have intervened
and that the cares we once thought so immense
still weigh in at their same old magnitude,
when those long idle hours spent in talk
with no intent except to measure time
with Prufrock’s gilded set of coffee spoons,
pretending some profundity in words
that seemed so easy then, rolled off the clock
like AWOL soldiers beyond duty’s fence?
What alternate reality would seem
the right place, now, to take up where we left,
imagining somehow the world had stopped
at just that precise moment when we two
in some ungainly ballet both were cast,
commanding neither balance or much grace,
and fumbled blindly at each other’s steps?
The music for that dance has long since stopped.
An awkward silence echoes from the stage
that swallows whole all kinds of might-have-beens.
What conversation that we never had
(at least, aloud in words, in the same room)
needs finishing at this point in our lives?
There is more water underneath that bridge
than fills the seven oceans of the world.
No, if we speak again, let’s talk as friends
who simply compare mileage and confess
no secrets, or regret for past mistakes;
what participles dangle in the mist
are sentences we’ve both served long enough.
17 SEP 2009
Someone told me once we never grow
beyond the point we turn the age eighteen:
what insecurities we carried then
still manifest themselves throughout our lives.
That makes those speeches every June
(you know the ones that say life’s just begun)
much more than naive lies, and still the truth:
depends on just how much you would believe.
I wonder if it’s like the weakling boy
who overcomes his limited physique
by spending endless hours in the gym
to change the image in the mirror,
but never runs quite fast enough to flee
the sickly shadow he would leave behind.
Could be the “eighteen” theory’s full of shit;
What would the world be if we never grew
beyond the high school notions that we held
to be so absolute and crystal clear?
A playground laid out on a global scale,
with territories marked in black and white,
a constant “them” and “us” dividing up
the haves from the have-nots, and so forth.
We must evolve. I’d like to think we do,
although it often takes ten years or more
to come to terms with who we thought we were
(in contrast with what we had yet to prove).
How many of us reach the other side
with anything but memories left alive?
14 SEP 2009
I do not wish to change the world;
its own design is near enough
some muddled state of constant flux
that nothing I could add or try
would make much difference in the end.
I do not wish to shape or mold
young minds to fit my own intent;
Ye gods! Imagine them grown up
and emulating my life’s work!
Why duplicate such a mistake
I do not wish to change your mind,
or gain your trust or force your hand;
my own revolt at such nonsense
turns my own stomach into knots;
I can imagine your dismay.
I do not wish to change the world.
I cannot even change my mind,
or stay a course for long enough
to make a ripple in a pond;
one moment here, and the next, gone.
11 SEP 2009
Water seeks its own level,
on a quest to find the sea;
The answers we seek taste of metal,
our understanding like liquid drawn from a well
that finds the hard edges
of knowing, the galvanized pail
holding the essence of our being
in one place, in this world.
What is outside this frame of steel,
this skeleton that time binds to this space?
To where are we going?
From where did we come?
What can we know of answers,
we who will be one day poured from this bucket
into the ocean?
What need is there of questions then,
when we are part of the wave?
And to those who are still on the shore, separate,
how shall we describe
what is gained, what is lost?
“Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion —
Hindus, Mohammedans, Brâhmos, Vaishnavas, and the rest. But they
never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Úiva, and
bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Âllâh as well — the
same Râma with a thousand names. A lake has several ghâts. At one
the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’; at another the
Mussalmâns take water in leather bags and call it ‘pâni’. At a third
the Christians call it ‘water’. Can we imagine that it is not ‘jal’,
but only ‘pâni’ or ‘water’? How ridiculous! The substance is One
under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance;
only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man
follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God,
peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.” — Sri Ramakrishna
21 DEC 2004