No One Sees Us as We Are

She said

I can’t imagine you young

in school

a time when you didn’t know

everything—

*

I know less and less each year

he thought

so much confidence and verve

years ago

now only anxiety and doubt

(December 18, 2019)

Interrupted While Reading in Public

A nothing—

you suppose

and assume

too much

upon others:

as if your presence,

and proximit,y

are enough,

you claim space

upon our attention.

You who speaks

a flurry

of flatulence—

Who are you

to say we’re rude?

Like pebbles,

you throw words

to blind,

mock,

and silence.

At best, 

you are a gnat

flitting between

this book

and the table.

(September 16, 2019)

Examination

E

“The unexamined life is not worth living”–Socrates

What’s wrong with being

happy? Oblivious,

stumbling along, content

with the morning sun

parsing the petals

of the rose’s first bud?

Under the instant and

insistent barrage 

of doubt, the examined 

life is not necessarily

worth living. Living

is worth living. Implicit,

joy radiates, each moment

transcendent, without

need to justify within

mocking parenthesis.

(February 26, 2019)


Epilogue


“but I was only bruised”

—Denise Levertov

I thought you were a butterfly,

But I was just a construct.

I thought I was an open wound,

But you were not a surgeon.

I thought you were my subtext,

But I was just a shallow novel.

I thought I had healed,

But still I wrote this poem.

(November 27, 2018)

Too Many Conversations to Slough Off

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After the teacher conference

spent listening to others

speak of techniques

to hold their students

locked around an idea

of reading and writing

with little actual reading

or writing of consequence,

 

I am reminded of a Greek

statue of a wrestler,

who stands silent

scraping sweat and

filth from his arm,

his day done.

 

(November 11, 2018)

Snapshot

source

 

As laconic waves lap the shore,

Children’s laughter catches the breeze;

And seagulls’ cries pierce the sky.

 

In the moment before it happens,

No one notices the clouds overhead

Casting shadows on the ground.

 

Recently, I saw an old photograph—

A typical summer beach scene:

Two young blonde women lean over

 

A railing in modest bathing suits.

They look out over the crowded beach

Toward the soft clouds on the horizon.

 

Everyone seems happy. Everyone

Exists in the moment, oblivious

To the candid moment they are in.

 

The caption reads: Germany, 1936.

It could have been any day;

It could have been today.

 

 

*(historical note: Dachau opened in March, 1933)

 

 

(October 15, 2018)

Gretel Lost in the World

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no dragons burn and pillage

even when lost in metaphorical

forests. the children’s screams

in the candy houses next door

are real enough not to be just

symbols in a jungian melodrama

analyzed casually over a cup of tea.

there are no stories to hide within.

the steel-eyed king and queen

handing down impartial justice

never existed anymore than the gods

who were used to justify raw power.

Whereas the black-helmed men

with polished shields and truncheons

still freely move down city streets

searching for someone else to kill.

(October 12, 2018)

Desire for Desire

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He pointed out the apple.

She naively bit her lip, but

not her tongue, and said

Wouldn’t that be wrong?

 

Who says what’s wrong,

he said, then laughed.

If one is good, and one

bad simply in saying,

 

should the word hold sin,

or the one who speaks

into division? Do words

so stage our reactions,

 

or are our words an apple

offered up in innocence?

 

(October 7, 2018)

Turning Point

write-sales-letter

advice to my 15-year-old self

 

Keep writing; it defines you.

you are about to meet your wife;

she is not your current crush.

 

Your dad is dying.

In a couple of months, he’ll know.

It will take two years.

 

Except for your wife,

who you do not know yet,

no one thinks like you.

 

Poetry will save you

now, and again forever:

so read more, write more.

 

You will become who you are.

Quit German, learn Spanish.

(September 17, 2018)

Right Here Where We Are

 

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There are too many trees

in this forest for a trail

to easily follow home,

too many slavering wolves

to pay attention to the way.

 

Often, I tell stories without

telling stories as I teach.

Who has the time for hidden

messages? The metaphor’s too often

lost in the ubiquitous as it is .

 

Like now, one should mark this

turn on the path so we might

return again later as different

people who are no longer lost.

 

Of course, that would require

attention to where we are

now— accepting what’s here

as the only place to know,

and the only way we can be.

 

There is no one hiding

behind the trees, no fairies

dancing circles in the dark.

There are only our words

right here where we are.

 

(August 7, 2018)