There are times when I’m determined
(or at least, some times I feel)
that my life should find its purpose
in constructing something real:
an edifice in marble, some landmark
of stone and steel,
so that my passing leaves some sign.
Such thoughts have their appeal
when I imagine that my hands
are tight upon the wheel,
and that this life is more than just
what cards the world may deal.
To leave a mark upon this earth,
to feel a sense of pride;
a man seeks to find meaning
where two roads may coincide:
to make finite steps forward,
rather than to merely slide
along inside the slipstream,
carried onward by the tide;
to know that one has gathered up
enough good sense inside
to choose the path their feet would walk,
one’s wisdom undenied.
Yet other times, it seems to me,
I think with greater sense,
and ponder with less confidence
my whole experience:
a lifetime spent in wondering,
in straddling the fence,
denying often greater truths
for lack of evidence
(at least, the kind that leaves its spoor,
some fleeting track or scent)
and feeling lost inside a maze
of moments, gained and spent.
So then what does it matter
whose hands are upon the wheel?
Both journeys planned and unrehearsed
have proven their appeal.
Too often my decisions
(or their counterpart, no choice)
result in finding chaos
where I cannot hear my voice.
What destination beckons?
Let the universe decide;
for I am just a passenger
come along for the ride.
02 JUN 2006
The sky was shot with grays and greens,
and clinging clouds that hung low;
from the west, the wind was slight
against my face that April night
I found I’d lost my way;
and more, what’s worse,
with nothing left to say:
a writer’s sad curse.
I stood in silence, stunned and mute
and watched the world continue on;
Despite my dumbness, nothing changed
in how life lumbers slowly on
for no one, rich or poor;
both thieves and cops
react, and nothing more,
as each moment drops.
For quite a while, I watched and waited,
’til the lights lowered and dawn was near,
as the darkened earth began to glow
with the soft shimmer of newborn day
stretching its tired limbs,
the spell of gloom broken
by a small bird’s hymn.
And only then, I spoke.
06 APR 2004
They say the way is often well-paved and leads
down along the map. But I have wondered, lying listening
to the constant rain, about the benefits of concrete
and steel until it dawns on me.
The say that Mecca is to the east or west,
but when you’re on your knees, the direction is down –
to me, that means the South.
The sins in the cities of time are alloyed
from two parts innocence, one part greed and often,
a helping of guilt for good measure. Opportunity,
they say, canvasses more limited neighborhoods
than he used to. If you ain’t on his route, he won’t
But I know this – real chances don’t wait; they don’t
stand at the door and look in the windows. They’ll slip
in the kitchen by the screen, ’round midnight, like a thief,
and your wrought iron gates won’t help you none.
And further, when the sun won’t as much as shine
there’s not much chance of seeing the light, you dig?
You can sit here in darkness and cold, if you like,
But maybe you’ll be doing it alone.
I say, “That’s Hell.”
As for me, I shall move down to New Orleans;
and when the wind blows heavy with sweat I shall laugh –
for although rumor and sense might otherwise indicate,
the actual gates of Hell are located
much further North.
You know when I first realized I didn’t want to be a rock star (yeah, I know, all of five minutes ago, right)? The moment I realized I was not interested in entertaining anyone I didn’t personally know and like (and by entertaining personally I mean like playing the guitar for a friend’s wedding, writing silly songs for the kids, making friends laugh, etc.). As a corollary to that I realized that I’m not really all that interested in “making new friends” either, meaning more people who will show up drunk at the house at 3:00 a.m. unannounced. At some point I stopped seeking and thinking about having what I wanted. And started wanting what I have. Not becoming possessive, really, because I give a lot more away now than ever; or becoming attached to anything material, but valuing each thing as it occurs, treasuring it while it lasts, nurturing its role in my life.
I realized something, too, when I wrapped up writing all those poems by request. That is, that ultimately I wasn’t interested in writing for other people anymore. In making what I was writing worth reading (by anyone’s standards but my own). I proved a point to myself, I think, and that is that I don’t need an audience. I don’t really care if anyone is listening, or if they think what I have to say is worth listening to. I’m not trying to convert anyone, or sell encyclopedias, or whatever.
That doesn’t mean that I’m withdrawing from society, turning off the creativity, or anything like that. It doesn’t mean that if you need me, tough luck. What it means is that what I have to say is not a commodity I’m creating for the sake of having something to say, or just so an increasing number of people can find me worth reading.
You may have noticed the format change in this journal over the last week or so. I think that’s indicative of a change in the content, as well. Perhaps it’s less accessible now, less safe. On the other hand, it feels (to me) more open, spontaneous – dealing with essentials, not extras. With being and not seeming to be.
Or something like that. You’re welcome to come along for the ride. Destination: freedom, awareness, truth – but not mine; that’s for me. You’ll need to pack your own.