A Thing Survives: byr a thoddaid


So: can a thing survive a fall,
then lift itself enough to crawl
from where it lands to some safe place, to heal
and hide its bruised, scarred face

until the foe that pushed it down
has doubt it ever was around,
then too late, as the counterstrike arrives,
regrets its choice to leave a thing alive?

26 JAN 2017

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This Morning’s Song


The song I sing this morning is not new.
In fact, its birth predates even my own;
yet in between the phrases, now and then,
it’s me, and not the tune, that you’ll hear groan.

Why is this melody upon my lips
instead of some fresh fragment from the charts,
designed from sentimental, worn cliches
to motivate me and my shopping cart?

Because it has survived, the same as I,
despite the efforts of a younger set
who think of history as just passe,
and find their greatest talent, to forget.

The song I sing this morning, I once sang
as a young boy who’d just begun to dream
that this old world was more than it appeared,
and started peeking in between the seams.

What song will you be singing when we meet?
I hope it’s one where I can sing along;
I’ll share mine with you, if you’d care to try:
in harmony, it’s twice as loud and strong.

11 APR 2006

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After the Flood


The things by which we measure our success:
accumulations from long years of toil,
the pride of equity in an address,
and our precious illusions. How soon spoiled,

in just a moment’s passing, are these goods,
respectability’s crush torn away.
All the great faiths instruct us that we should
in times like these find hope and not dismay,

unloosed from the material that binds
our spirits to mere temporality;
and praise the soul that in such trial finds
a hidden good to salve its sanity.

It’s only stuff, I know; and furthermore,
in recent months I’ve despaired that its weight
has been a millstone lain beneath the floor
that’s kept our fate in chains. But as of late,

I wonder: is it better the veneer
on these rough boards of ours has been removed,
and now, left plain and simple, our path clear,
are we left with a simpler truth to prove?

I am no refugee, except to those
who measure by possessions a man’s worth,
and would put beggar’s hearts in rich men’s clothes
expecting gold from toxic, poisoned earth.

I have all that I need: the rest is dross
that over time accumulates again;
What good is sorrow spent on such a loss,
or worry over endless might-have-beens?

21 SEP 2005

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Back to the basics


Back to the basics: down that trail
bringing us from the ocean’s foam
where we shared space with fish and snail;
back past Europe, far beyond Rome,
before we started keeping track
or had the means to tally score.
If we would find the things we lack
we must devolve, then dig some more
distaining drills and modern tools,
pickaxes, shovels and backhoes;
tricks learned in engineering schools,
and physics, too; they must all go.

Bring nothing with you, pen nor phone
will serve you here in this dead zone;
no trail guides, blueprints, wires or cups —
to walk this path, you must give up
all semblance to your modern self;
and all those volumes on your shelves:
pretend that they were never writ,
that all you know, the breadth of it,
spans just as far as your two arms
and runs the width of a small farm.

Back to the basics: eat and sleep,
hunt and be hunted, kill or die.
Turn back from hills that are too steep,
from rivers too deep or too wide.
Back to the basics: no free time,
no Broadway shows, no top shelf wines;
the Devil’s in such modern stuff,
so give it back, and say, “Enough!”

Forget how far the human race
has come; at least, in any case,
deny yourself the benefit
of what you did not work to get
and take for granted your whole life:
to slice that bread, you’ll need a knife.

03 JUN 2005

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Through Hurricane Glasses


All these years spent riding the eye of the storm,
at the edge of the wind and the rain,
ahead of the weather, before it could form,
you’d think patterns would make themselves plain.

But the nature of the cyclone is spun from without;
subtle shifts in the slipstream can deceive.
You can read the cloud patterns, but there’s always doubt
that the nightfall’s what morning believes.

And the hurricane takes you to places unknown
that the points on the map do not show.
At the start of the season you’re out on your own,
for the doors are all boarded up closed

And the crux of the matter, at the cusp of the wind
where your sense of direction is confused,
is to not fight the current when you feel it begin
if you don’t want to end bent and bruised.

You start in the ocean, just a speck in the sky
building up size and momentum by the mile,
slipping under the radar for the first by and by,
then appearing at the curtain with style.

And the hurricane brings you to uncharted zones
that the guidebooks don’t often reveal.
At the height of the season, you’re there all alone,
for the levees and beaches have been sealed

It’s true, sooner or later, you burn out or make land
and the bluster slacks out of your sails,
ending up just some thunder on a few miles of sand
Filling gutters and storm drains and pails.

And a few busted windows, or a few flooded lawns
are the best you can manage to show
for the years riding shotgun, just carried along
at the edge of the winds as they blow.

And the hurricane’s dropped you so far from your home,
way beyond where the charts start to fade.
At the end of the season, you’re left all alone
with the wreckage that your trip has made.

09 SEP 2003

Maybe this one is about storms, but I doubt it. It’s more likely to be about those people around us who seem so wild and free, little caring about the effect the great maelstrom of their existence has on others – does the hurricane care about the shorelines it devastates, the paradises upon which it wreaks havoc, the homes it destroys? So like the hurricane are so many people, hurrying and hustling through their lives, bulls in china shops, leaving nothing but wanton destruction in their wakes. I’ve known a few. And I’ve often wondered about their purpose in my life — was it to discourage my attachment to mere material things, to a few precious valuables and so-called unbreakable commodities, and seek out things that the vicissitudes of this life cannot damage? Or was it to point out the very unstable potential of each of our natures, that finds expression only in random violence and senseless cruelty, and keep me from “riding that wind” myself, if only to provide a safe harbor for my own more landlocked dreams? Perhaps. I only know that I have longed to be a “storm rider” in the past, and surely have harnessed my share of lightening. Being burned is only half the story. As anyone who has spent a lot of time in the water will tell you, it’s not the current that ultimately gets you, it’s the exposure.

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