Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Good writing may plunge you into sorrow or make you radiate with new light. Whatever it does, it makes us more alive, reaching into us from the inside of forever. We embark on a journey together when we share a poem or story, seeking a deeper sense of self.
Accept the Invitation
We spend so much time together
in our separate rooms of history,
isolated by imagination
and hair-triggered sensitivities
swooning us into objects
of primary pain.
We should throw our belongings
into the street and make love
on the sandy, swept floor,
feeling its particles with greedy skin
of face, thigh, hand.
I want to disinherit my heart’s ghosts
and hold you in an empty field
of vision. Pure as an offered breast
your true image will form
across months and years.
The million volatile impressions
you are today strung together
on the ribbon of your name
are not enough for me.
I want no careless window-shopping
around your vicinity, but to plumb
the void, make a hair-raising journey
behind personality. To stand together
in the light that streams
from a hidden source in this world
whenever being meets.
After Reading Dante’s Paradiso
We live in a heaven we take great pains to avoid.
Shielding our cheeks from a winter sky’s
chilled fur, we hunch against the brush of air
that has rushed everywhere. We listen
into our phones so as not to be pierced
by arias in the pines. Clench worry’s hands
to keep a woodpecker’s drumming
out of our bones. Stay separate.
Refuse to sail a cloud into evening’s gold.
I circle your neighborhood. You switch on
your motor to cancel my hellos
and drive by, tunnel-gazing.
You will not allow yourself
to see a flock of red butterflies
that seem to have settled on the quince
but turn out to be its blossoms.
You work at not seeing the cherry trees’
candlelight parade. Busy yourself
steadying a tea tray on your head.
It’s hard not to look into each other’s eyes,
down wells of the water we daily draw up,
but bliss is trying to leach into our cells
from the sheer forces of nature and humanity.
Happiness can sprout in a moment, absurd
amid the gray towers strafed by the hate of centuries.
Don’t make a habit of paving over any space
where a tiny flower could pop or hold
your breath, so you can’t nose around
as easily as an old dog finds a neighborly scent
and comes upon another circle of delight.
I was especially taken
with the grasses today, their herringbone
weaves and golds, purples, and greens,
the seed pods floating
like butterflies on tall stems.
I felt like a boat in a restless ocean
at sunset, the moving flecks
and hues rocked me as the wind
twined with tangled
bird trills, and the earth yawned
and mouthed me
and tongued my neck
until my speech came out medleys
of forgetfulness and I swayed
saying the beloved’s name
with its endless sounds.
I was especially taken
to the bone-clean rock
the tiny lizard owned, blinking
with its pebbled lid in the sun,
and when it slunk down,
hugging its planet, I went
home hugging my own heart.