Monthly Archives: November 2006

The First Day

If this is the first day of what life remains,
who cares if there’s sunshine or thunder and rain?
Both have their own virtues, each pleasure and pain;
though different, a good deal the same.

If this is the first day of what there is left,
what good is my grieving, or acting bereft
because things so far haven’t all gone my way?
What matters is always today.

Yesterday’s always a moment behind,
tomorrow a moment too soon;
hold on too tightly, and you’ll only find
January turns into June.
Each brand new morning is unto itself,
it needs not a calendar name.
Waste just one moment, and your life is past
with no one but yourself to blame.

If this is the worst day to happen so far,
what good is me blaming some unlucky stars
or looking for answers where none need be found
beyond my two feet on the ground?

If this is the best day that will ever be,
what good is it to keep it locked up for me
when part of the reason it turned out that way
is saving tomorrow for after today?

Yesterday’s always a moment behind,
tomorrow a moment too soon;
hold on too tightly, and you’ll only find
January turns into June.
Each brand new morning is unto itself,
it needs not a calendar name.
Waste just one moment, and your life is past
with no one but yourself to blame.

If this is the first day, and what’s come before
is just one more wave on an infinite shore,
which part of creation should I try to blame?
The end and beginning are one and the same.

30 NOV 2006

for James Taylor

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What You Do Not Seek

Assuming you don’t write your own,
whose poetry assumes your voice
and would, with no small arrogance,
usurp the words that form your world?

Assuming that you do not play,
whose music fills your waiting ears
and would displace the silence there
with its own song and not your own?

Assuming that you do not dance,
whose rhythm would inform your bones
and chart your course across the stage,
its curtain drawn upon your birth?

Assuming that you’d dedicate
your years to some creative spark
should it make obvious itself
and fill with purpose your short life,

what makes you think it cares to wait
while you stand silent in the wings,
content to sing another’s song,
wasting your breath on other’s words,

or learning some odd stranger’s dance?
What good is that to a small spark
that seeks a kindling dried and gnarled,
not soaked through with another’s sweat.

Assuming you are not your own,
whose god have you imagined yours,
that will appear somehow at length
to give you what you do not seek?

27 NOV 2006

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A Week in LA

After almost twenty years
to spend a week out in LA
and to watch through hotel windows
where the rich and famous play

(or at least some folks pretending
to be worth the time of day,
either rock stars in the making
or young vultures seeking prey)

without caring much about it,
but just wondering, through my stay,
if I could have done things different
and still been alive today;

’cause the toll of fame is heavy,
when you live out in LA;
and despite the years, it’s still more
how you look, not what you say.

It’s almost a foreign country to me,
lit up for display
where you feel excited to arrive
but glad to go away.

20 NOV 2006

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Inappropriate Happiness

Maybe sanity’s a side-effect of living;
some folks get it, while some others never do.
It’s just a minor irritation that can do no lasting harm;
you can shake it like a slight touch of the flu.

Besides, in a world that’s gone a little crazy,
it’s not mark of great success to learn to fit;
and to have it all together isn’t much of an achievement
when all you’re taught from birth is how to live with it.

Being well adjusted isn’t everything, you know
Keep your medications up there on the shelf
The price of high is sometimes you must be a little low
Who cares what is inappropriate for anybody else?
Make your happiness by just being yourself.

Maybe happiness is never inappropriate,
It just breaks apart the stretches in between
When reality goes on and on and never seems to quit
its insistence that we should know what it means.

Besides, in a world that’s gone a little crazy
It’s a marvel we have happiness at all
We all act so damned surprised when it sneaks up in disguise
like a parachute that interrupts free fall

Being well adjusted isn’t everything, you know
Keep your medications up there on the shelf
The price of high is sometimes you must be a little low
Who cares what is inappropriate for anybody else?
Make your happiness by just being yourself.

31 OCT 2006

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At the Lakeshore

Thoreau spoke of a quiet desperation:
a sad affliction borne by other men,
whose lives are filled up, not so much with silence
but with a never-ending dulling din,

the calling card of progress and its engines,
whose pulse and throb churn on into the night
and rob the world of any moment’s stillness.
With engineering, we would prove it right

that idle hands seek evil, free from working;
that contemplation breeds unrest and doubt;
that in a second’s peace, there is a lurking
malaise so foul that noise must drive it out.

What genius, to encourage entertainments
that thrive on a cacophony of sound
and into pensive hours, inject such vigor
that even philosophic minds are bound

to see in growing deafness, evolution;
amidst the constant murmur of machines
to hear a mantra granting absolution;
and find in silence only the obscene.

As if truth is transmitted by loudspeaker
not needing other volumes first turned down,
instead of lapping, quiet at the shoreline
where we must either learn to swim, or drown.

Lake Catherine, Arkansas
29 OCT 2006

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