Tag Archives: regrets

I Will Not Dwell: a bob and wheel

I will not dwell on might-have beens,
nor doubt the world’s slow turn;
but fill my world with verdant greens,
with love’s unending yearn
    to learn
    of things beyond my reach,
    just out of sight and mind;
    what dreams and shadows have to teach,
    what fools and dreamers find.

I will not drown in endless tears,
nor mourn the days now past;
but instead relish those sweet years
as bricks and mortar cast
    to last
    what’s left of my short time,
    an edifice to stand
    in memory of me and mine,
    the work of my own hand.

I will not fear death, when it comes,
as it does for all things:
when my life’s constant, beating drum,
desists its pulsing ring
    and sings
    instead in silent song
    of energy released
    to other use, that moves along
    and finds, in new life, peace.

18 NOV 2010

Season’s Crossroads

Wouldn’t know it from the weather,
but the summer’s almost gone.
Those lazy early days have faded,
though the swelter lingers on;
and the memory of the schoolyard
has begun to slip away
as if lessons barely ended
prove you know something today

Wouldn’t know it, ‘cept the calendar
is near another page.
Each checkmark by a number
signifies another stage,
and another blue sky faded
slowly into dappled gray.
All the colors run together;
only darkness will remain.

At the crossroads of the seasons
you can only stand so long
before something calls you onward:
something yearning, something strong;
there is nothing left a body here to do,
except believe in a miracle or two.

Wouldn’t know it from the weatherman,
but autumn’s closing in.
Though the dog days are still coming,
they will grow weary and thin;
and the sunny joys of summer
that you thought were here to stay
will be covered in the green leaves
that you sit under today.

At the crossroads of the seasons
you pick your point of return;
and pretend your new direction shows
you things you need to learn.
But there is nothing much to do beyond just ride,
and believe you’ll come out on the other side.

21 JUN 2005

for Pete Ham

If you’ve ever listened to much Badfinger, you know who Pete Ham was – lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter for the group who wrote, among other things, Without You, which was much more successfully recorded by Harry Nilsson and recently again by Mariah Carey. He committed suicide in 1975.

My favorite song of his is called “Perfection”:

There is no real perfection
There’ll be no perfect day
Just love is our connection
The truth in what we say

There’s no good revolution
Just power changing hands
There is no straight solution
Except to understand

So listen to my song, of life
You don’t need a gun, or a knife
Successful conversation,
will take you very far

There is no real perfection
There’ll be no perfect man
Just peace is our connection
For giving all you can

There’s no good kind of killing
Just power taking life
It’s all good blood that’s spilling
To make a bigger knife

So listen to my song, of life
You don’t need a gun, or a knife
Successful conversation,
can take you very far

(c) 1971 Pete Ham


It may be that the swath through life I cut
runs down a different seam than I once thought
would turn into a finished garment; what
great pattern looked so perfect when I bought
it, now seems out of style and so ill-fitting
that it more suits a clown, like a disguise
designed to fool my parents, and their unwitting
support of crazy dreams, sad notions and white lies.

What were once intended as fine robes of sable
turn out to wear so quickly, and to fray
along the dragging edges; I’m not able
to hide the muddy edges where the lining’s worn away.
Yet pretending that my world is still defined
by clothes that make the man who isn’t there
is little more than dress-up play. Only a blind
fool would pretend they haven’t noticed, or don’t care.

And who would go to Mardi Gras in rags,
or celebrate a ball in some worn, shabby gown?
Even the poorest ne’er-do-well will drag
a pompous get-up from the closet to paintroll the town.
So that loose-fitting, monstrous thing I’ve sewn
will never do to be seen in or see;
‘tho built with care, its appeal has not grown,
nor does it portray who I’d like to be.

I stand, quite sadly, naked to the mirror,
that will not, though I’ve bribed it, tell a lie;
The bright light overhead just makes much clearer
those flaws I’ve tried to cover, by and by.
These yards of cloth, whose colors seemed to suit me
some years ago, now seem too bold and garish;
and scars from scissors mar the look completely.
I cannot leave the house. I’m too embarrassed.

Yet, I can’t bear to don a robe and sandals,
or throw some shapeless mumu round my girth.
Besides, such things just fuel the neighbor’s scandals
who like to cast aspersions on my worth.
Am I these clothes? This look? This sense of fashion?
They hardly seem to fit me or my dreams,
or match the style and vigor of my passions,
which masquerade in a t-shirt and jeans.

02 MAY 2005

Intimations of Idiocy

From early childhood until now I’ve spent my life immersed
in earnest pantomime of games adults will feign to play:
the forging of relationships through love, business and war;
the chaos that somehow surprises all when facades fail
and underneath, our lack of understanding is revealed.

In retrospect, it seems so pointless that this grand charade
we call adulthood is but one more round of hide-and-seek;
and now, on different playgrounds, the same bullies still parade,
hiding their shame and fear behind bravado that relies
on hurting and belittling those who would disagree.

And love? We still believe in it: ideal, without the strings
that in our adolescence, even, we could plainly see,
some fantasy played out in Greek mythology
that culture’s constant shuffle classes second-rate
compared to the technology of modern, improved angst.

So now we watch, our brainwaves dulled to sleep
except when from banal, idyllic states
it is required that we produce or purchase
to keep the dream machine well-oiled and financed;
in such an embryonic state, we all wait to mature.

From early childhood until now, I’ve been told meaning waits
around the bend, a few short years beyond where I am now;
but every month that passes by exposes those who preach
this gospel as just more blind fools who like me, search in vain
for dreams that will not simply fade as we approach the light.

01 MAY 2005

Words Burst the Thirteen Open

“I have nothing to say and I am saying it; that is poetry.” — Thirteen Words, John Cage

What it is or was mulled over like cheap wine
we drank although we didn’t know it and so we
called our passions sad mistakes and so refused
to comprehend but never mind it overall and if
you’re sorry that’s the price or so you say but
I was giving it free of charge in case you didn’t know

(grow old with me I said
as childishly I pulled you through the grass across the lawn
behind the backs
of those
who paid themselves to watch)

What it is or was and in the end became to be
because when I just happened to you accidents
can happen to love you and there’s nothing else
to say and my mistake was letting you believe
that I could accept nothing free of charge.

(grow close to me I said
as hopelessly I let you block the light across my soul
behind the house of cards
I built myself
to watch fall down)

Where do you think those words came from?
Did you think I was kidding?

Would I have struggled through this:
aborted our unborn children,
burnt our home together down with deliberate matches,
killed the part of me that made you love me
just so you could sleep easier knowing
it was one less decision you had to make?

Look, here is the moon you wanted!

In my worthless, bloodied hands you see it;
it is what you want, but my having it makes it dirty;
you look away – the sight of me
with your sky makes you weep.

I am the sacrilege in your dream.

Your emasculated knights could never bring it close,
the feeble soldiers for whom you feel appropriate,
but I have held it here with me for three months now,
fought dragons and returned near death,
in vain, to hang it on your wall.

Although you want it, you must not take it from me –
that would mean something, a commitment.
I refuse to let myself be shamed by your refusal
of it; it was not the moon at all you sought,
but mere reflection of it:
substance, not the style that hides it,
is the gift you turn from.

That is my flaw, that I have substance without style,
truth without flowers –
these are my bitter pills,
presented without their sugar armor.
What it is or could have or to have not anything
about will never weep my secrets:
I have cast myself into this pit
and wrenched my heart from where it was
and burnt it here upon the hearth –
for rather than the something different


I would have the nothing that we shared and then made sorrow
by denying
that it mattered, that it felt,
that it was real, that it was anything …
that it was everything.

Look, I can be more than just your mistake!
I can stop hurting, just like that!
I can deny that i will always love you!

I can look forward to Hell, where
I burn now for lying,
and you commit yourself like murder,
while we stand aside and watch ourselves
drowning in the fire.


No More Sad Weepings of Regret

No more sad weepings of regret
for could have beens and not quite yets,
for rituals left incomplete
for locked doors facing empty streets

for words lost in a tempest’s rage
for missteps on an unlit stage
for ancient wounds now faded scars
for long burnt out, far distant stars

for fashions past that won’t return
for matches far too wet to burn
for verbal gaffes, for unrhymed verse
for knowledge gathered and dispersed

for books unwritten and unread
for love once endless, but now dead
for rusting bars on unlit cells
for buckets drawn from empty wells

for seeds and wild oats never sown
for first together, then alone
for motions carried just for spite
for daylight’s retreat into night

for a whole lifetime spent for naught
for fish, and punchlines, left uncaught
for seeming more, and being less
for each new forwarding address

for moments passed that are no more
for losing count, for keeping score
for hours lost in speechless grief
for seeking elsewhere for relief

for finding fault, for feeling shame
for wanting to assign the blame
for wasting one more second’s worth
of this brief span we have on earth.

06 APR 2005

The Heart of Beauty

When Beauty stands alone at last
upon the wretched reefs of time
and watches as her suitors sink
beyond the pale horizon line
where tied to masts of providence
they’ve closed their senses to her charms
and set their sextants to new courses
far from her beseeching arms,

no matter then how sweet her song,
when each note, lost to swells of surf,
is but a whisper on the wind,
a worthless seed in barren earth,
and even in her own soft ears
will sound like scratches on the rocks,
a cackle from a passing gull
who sees in this no paradox.

Then bitter, she will turn her head
and swim back slowly to the shore,
her salt tears mixed with brine and sand,
and come down to the beach no more.
For Beauty needs an audience,
despite her bold and showy ways;
even the proudest actor fails
in time, without applause or praise.

And Beauty, how we keep apart,
in careful boxes locked and sealed,
her essence from her mind, and heart,
and with that care, is hate revealed.
For we would have her, just for that
which titillates us and our lust
and not be bothered with her soul,
though have a soul, she does, and must.

We drive her off to lonely shores
or high in towers, where she pines
to share a dark and loveless cell
among the dead, like Prosperpine.
For ’tis the trophy we would claim,
the right to Beauty for our sake;
and care not if the heart we cage,
without our love, can only break.

06 FEB 2005