Tag Archives: Robert Frost

New Directive: glosa, glose, gloss

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather – Robert Frost

Back out? How far? To what remove?
What will that further distance prove –
that some great reset of the clock
will change the past, and thereby block

the entropy and slow decay
that brought us to the present day,
where we bewail our world’s demise?
How could that fate be a surprise?

The detail wasn’t burnt or lost
without our knowledge; we helped toss
those leaves onto the burning pile,
convincing ourselves all the while

that an ideal of greater good
was possible, if we just could
change everyone else without first
changing ourselves. That bubble burst,

and now we cry alack and woe.
We knew then how this thing would go:
that words like fate and destiny
sound empty, but our vanity

insists we cannot be to blame,
and seeks an Other we can name
as the great cause of the dismay
we see as the threat of the day.

Those better days of halcyon,
in truth, ’tis better that they’re gone;
Just ask the disenfranchised then
how golden was that age of men,

how green their grass, how free their reign,
in that time we think free from pain?
If you would enshrine some day gone
as when the world was good, dream on!

Back out? ’Tis but a wistful dream!
Instead: become, instead of seem,
a human soul that wants to grow
beyond the boundaries you know.

24 MAR 2017

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There is a wall around a thing

There is a wall around a thing that does not know to love
that keeps it safe, in some sad way, and far from the great harm
experience brings with it when it visits and leaves broken pots and pans,
dead flowers for your freezer, dirty clothes and empty hands.

It can be climbed, for sure, if one is fit enough to try;
although its worn-smooth edges don’t leave much for finger grips,
and can, more times than not, result in sore and aching arms
that try to hold on tightly, but must let go before long.

“Keeps out the riff-raff,” some might say, and smile self-satisfied;
the kind of folks that think that love’s in limited supply.
If all the work we seem to do to keep a bad thing out
were spent in more productive ways, we might just learn to fly.

There is a wall around a thing that does not know to love;
a wailing wall, where suitors spent untold long afternoons,
their faces wet with salt and sweat, their eyes turned red and tired.
Then all too soon, their season’s done, and just the wall remains.

There is a wall around a thing that does not know to love
that like a rusting prison cell, keeps in as well as out;
a mausoleum for the soul that dies where it was born,
and leaves no friend to bid farewell, no single voice to mourn.

29 MAY 2009

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A Different Path

Sometimes, I wonder: if I’d walked a different path,
the one, like Frost’s, well-traveled and defined,
perhaps more suited to my demograph
but nonetheless a road that I declined,
and put my energy into some goal,
a measure pleasing to the status quo,
if I pretended to have more control
of what I’ve had, and lost, or just let go,

would I have turned out more or less the same
at least as superficial means could sense
or would I be caught up in the grand game,
believing it the sole experience?
What might have been that person’s might-have-beens,
those dreams unknown to he who is me now?
Would those who live as I do seem obscene,
mere blots that for some reason gods allow?

And when I paused to think of hows and whys
in quiet moments between each new dance
would I conceive a world cut down to size
to fit my purpose providence or chance?
I ponder, sometimes, on the path I walk,
and wonder, of the two worlds, which is worse:
to see the pebble dwarfed next to the rock,
or know the rock, lost in the universe.

The knowing that I chose the darker way,
through brambles that some might have cleared to pass,
has brought me right to where I am today;
perhaps my journey hasn’t been as fast
as if I’d walked the straight and brighter trail,
but then again, there is no use for speed
when, despite all your efforts, guidebooks fail
to tell you everything your journey needs.

02 FEB 2005

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The Wall

There is something in a family that doesn’t like a wall
inside the boundary it constructs, its face against the world,
that thin veneer of solidarity presented to conceal
or pander to the social mores ranking its esteem.

Behind the bastions of normalcy, its main concern
is making sure the single units pretend to conform;
and in that monitoring, it wants no separate, secret lives,
accepting only hesitantly strangers from outside.

Each strained reunion of the brood is subject of concern;
and any bricks laid on in private are quick set upon
with sledgehammers of guilt, and picks of hinting, sly reproach,
each proud attempt to isolate examined and destroyed.

Against this force of silent judgment, one who would be free,
seeking an authenticity outside accepted norms,
must toil in dark and secret, lest their labors be discovered
and hung, a warning pike along the outer fortress wall.

The separate self the enemy the hoarding family fears.
And so with subtle sabotage it works into new bricks themselves
the shale of doubt, and shunning stones to weaken each new plan
until in desperate surrender only the whole survives.

And distance, what is that to it, that reaches beyond time
across the generations, fingers clutching, like ivied vine
that resists even violent axes to grow back anew
and cover each new wound, and scar, with uniformity.

Its cry to arms is “Unity against the gathered hordes
that seek to infiltrate and then betray us from within,”
and with that xenophobic fervor fights to quell, subordinate,
the individual desire to reach outside its grasp.

There is something about family that doesn’t like a wall
within its defined boundaries; it challenges the whole.
And each new member must accept their assigned sentry role
or despite years of effort, its well-maintained castle falls.

27 MAY 2004

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Small Things

I:

There is no better thing,
I guess, than to believe
that my good thoughts take wing
without a by-your-leave
and find their way to where
they are needed the most;
that way, I do not care
if they remember their host.

II:

There under the carport
in the sweltering heat
of summer, it made sport
among the sticky sweet
passion flower petals,
its dusky wings beating
against the fence metal
in a brief and fleeting
hope for immortality.
Top that reality.

III:

The box is there, outside —
if you look, the edges
may be visibly spied
and looked past, like hedges.
Don’t try to muscle past
taking them for granted;
for they will hold you fast
’til the day you’re planted.

IV:

I walked outside last night
while moon glow splashed the street
and the reflected bright
warmed my still earthbound feet.

V:

Some faith is a madness
not often criticized;
Without questioning doubt,
it is too polarized.

14 AUG 2003

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Making Your Own Road

Two roads converged in a yellow wood
(and neither of them looked too good),
one leading off to some small town,
and the other wandering all around
like a less-beaten path I think should.

This forced duality for life struck me
with the limits of its possibility;
if only two ways seem to lead
from each new spot, then ’tis indeed
not much a choice, it seemed to me.

For why an old path, not a new one
blazed through underbrush, for fun,
to see what else is in the world;
beyond the map-edge, torn and curled,
the journey’s often just begun.

And so I stepped off the concrete,
finding just grass under my feet,
and made a path from where I stood,
leaving both roads for that wood;
and the journey so far has been sweet.

19 FEB 2003

Exercise: take a line from an existing poem and write a new poem based on that line. The line I chose was from Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.

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