Chronic Doubt about Writing Poetry

The time devoted to it:

futile prayers to a dead god,

or mere self-indulgent pap?

Either way—not much more:

no moon; no red rose;

no stolen kiss in the hall,

just thread bare cliches

to drape across trite sentiment,

like chairs in abandoned rooms.

(December 13, 2022)

No Words Left for the Dead

Silence and echos suffice

for few needs remain.


They do not speak through us.

Although we speak of them


in convoluted circles

with misplaced words,


and tangential voices,

as if we somehow knew more


than them about the language

required to navigate the stars.


(December 9, 2022)

Brer Rabbit Decontextualized

Even without the spoken word

as transcript, I fall through

context as if from a tree,

cracking branches and ribs,

finding solace in dislocation.

Alternatives are pointless

to parse, being unspoken.

Yet, a story’s happy ending,

too often, exists elsewhere.

Negotiating past conversations

into a tremulous present,

I am always somewhere else.

Rarely, am I here:

outside the tangled bramble.

(December 8, 2022)

Repair

Unlike broken Japanese bowls

laced with rivers of gold,

there is no art for a broken heart.

(December 7, 2022) 

How do we Begin

To rebuild the fables

after they have fallen

requires patience

to find what persists

in what remains.

A mother whispers

a song above a crib;

an old man remembers

his first taste of love;

we speak to each other

slowly across the night.

Within memory’s spaces

simple words are spoken

night after night after night.

(December 6, 2022)

etude

like notes in a tattered Stravinsky score

starlings stand on taut electric lines and

murmur about the secrets of the world


as if a sheet the wind has snapped free

from the line out back they lift as one

and shimmer across the crisp morning sky


(December 5, 2022)

Self Portrait Before a Bookcase

I am the books I have not read—

perhaps begun, or perhaps not, then

abandoned like a sack of kittens, 

to stack on side tables until relocated,

years later in a flurry of decluttering 

before a holiday, to a shelf where 

the petulant spines whisper, beneath 

the dust, their clucking disappointment

with lost possibility, and false claims

of the myriad loose threads which lead 

directly from the maze I only thought 

of entering, when instead I opened a book.

(December 1, 2022)

Dana Prajna Paramita

1.

Where are you going?

You’re already here.


Now, let that go—

but stay


without

staying.


2.

It is easier 

to be the authority


and pronounce

bits of bated wisdom,


as if you know

anything more than now.

3.

Listen, you are here:

the pulse of wind through the trees;

a loud distant sneeze.


(November 30, 2022)

Set and Setting

I wish I were drunk,

but I am not—

There are no soft edges left.

Rage waits. Boys, with guns

bigger than them, walk

casually into classrooms

and churches to kill.

The house is cold;

the Mexican blanket is not enough.

Plague festers the air; and, 

we breathe deeply. Savoring

the fear, we watch the street

humming darkly to the wind.

Again, we say what’s been said:

the same muttered rituals,

with the same fruitless results.

The world is broken, and I am

tired of this sober life.

Bit players, we dance awkwardly

in the blurred background

without lines to speak,

nor character enough to change.

(November 29, 2022)