I wonder how the world would be
if thirty years ago,
instead of playing thankless gigs,
a soundbyte of a show
I’d done when merely seventeen
(and better then, than now)
would have been made, and hit the ‘net
(God knows exactly how),
gone viral, and been seen worldwide.
Would I have been star?
I wonder, would I then have bothered
LEARNING the guitar?
By that, I mean becoming part,
just part, of what it means
to gain through time some mastery,
by living in between
the wanting and the knowing how,
the skill and the desire,
each note both torture and caress,
both kindling and the fire.
True art is more a crucible
where souls are bent and forged,
than an exciting carnival
where egos are engorged.
I wonder now, when looking back,
on things that could have been;
and thank the gods for then and now,
and the time in between.
What good would I be if back then
I’d caught on like a flame?
I would have not learned anything,
and been, today, just lame.
03 MAY 2011
Each moment is a threshold
hinged upon an ancient door;
we swing between two rooms:
the future, and what’s come before.
Experience, the lubricant
that smooths the rust and squeaks,
we start to use, and learn to hoard,
before we learn to speak.
One room is full of fantasy,
the other, hardened fact;
and though we glimpse both in the frame,
one isn’t coming back.
Each motion scrapes the floorboards clean
of dust from either side,
and pushes it before us.
One day, we choose to decide
which room is where we want to live,
to dwell on history,
or venture into the unknown
and forge a destiny.
We spend our time, hung on this door,
our focus one small arc
that gives us merely glimpses of
what’s out there in the dark:
for one, what holds the doorframe still,
what force compels these walls
to stand erect our entire lives,
while all around us falls?
And what if we should swing too hard,
as if it were a game
to make the quickest, loudest swing?
Is the oak door to blame
if loosened from its hinges,
it should let us hurl beyond
the simple, repetitious arc
we’ve come to depend on?
22 JUN 2005
Did bards of old, I wonder, ever tire
of rooting through their souls for a new verse
in order to instruct, praise or inspire
through their connection with the universe,
and after twenty years of “learn by rote”,
requiring mastery of form and feel,
the skill to recognize a tune by note,
a repertoire to make the senses reel,
and knowledge of the history and lore,
not only of their clan, but the whole world,
while at the beck and call of some great lord
who nine times out of ten, was partly churl,
requiring curses cast against their foes
or songs of praise to elevate their fame?
How often did a bard observe a rose
for just its fragrance, not speaking its name?
And when a verse or two was shared between
a group of bards that met along the road,
how often did the conversation lean
to simple things, not meter, rhyme and code?
I wonder if the burden that they shared,
the weight of culture’s future on their tongues,
was often thought a curse, even compared
unfavorably to being deaf and dumb?
They say the pen is greater than the sword,
that eloquence breaks down more doors than steel;
how treacherous that makes a life where words
are just as precious as true love, or meals.
Let modern poets suffer for their art,
imagining their angst so great and pure;
where their woe ends, the bard’s task only starts,
and leads where few may travel, or endure.
Those bards of old are gone, some may declare;
Their arts? Anachronistic and no use.
So few remain who act as if they care,
and on the struggling poet, heap abuse.
Did bards of old, I wonder, ever think
to give up, knowing that their audience,
who when given ambrosial words to drink,
gained neither wisdom or experience?
04 MAY 2005
for T.S. Eliot
When Icarus took flight with home-made wings
he sought to rise above, not divine laws,
but listening to how the eagle sings
attempted to reach past the aeropause
that culture places on its young when born
to limit how far flung their dreams may reach,
and teaches children to avoid its scorn
by tempering their thoughts in civil speech.
Poor Daedelus, tradition’s solid stock,
can only watch in anguish from the bluff
as his bright future plummets to the rocks,
its bindings frayed, momentum not enough.
Against the ceiling set by common whim
there is no soar or dive; just fall, or skim.
03 JUN 2004
If I never saw another morning sky
nor waked to hear the sparrows on the lawn,
if roses gave no scent when I walked by
and all the butterflies were dead and gone,
there still would be their memory in my mind
(for beauty is not merely for the sense)
and every place I looked for it, I’d find
a way to grow from each experience
For life is in the living, here and now
and does not linger long in sight and sound;
It dwells in death and rebirth, and somehow
remains, among all simple things, profound.
The end? In truth, that day will never come;
we merely pass from bread, to toast, to crumb.
31 MAY 2003