Poetry

More and more of mine, but most are poems by better writers that I’ve found essential. Fun Fact: All poems prefer being read aloud.

My love story is laden with unlikeliness, and met with disbelief
I have a mad true tale to tell you, of redeeming love as unlikely and essential as redemption itself
my love is not believable unless you can believe, nor provable unless you test

I want you to see my love for you as I do, as a blessed sea-change in my soul
as mysterious
and linked to God as every truly soulful thing is. It is grace unearned.
My love for you is the overthrowing of small good things for great ones,
My love for you is a revolution against dismal expectations, half hearts and half measures.

There is no controller, no governor of love, it pops like flowers through our tired sidewalks, where it will,
bright petals against gray.
Love is not a zero sum game of losers and winners but the approach to love’s door
is treacherous, as every wounded heart can attest.
There is no science of love, nor organized agencies of love, though some make the claim,
statistics cannot chart it, nor prediction find it, nor expert testimony confirm it.
Love is found not in safety, through exhaustive research, or any collective judgement pro or con,
Love is the end of shopping, of the hard bargain, of grudging and holding out, comparing for the best deal.
Love seems mad to those who do not, and a flat memory of could to those who can’t. Love is the dammed up river
in every human heart.

Love and the magic in it BECOMES when two hearts admit it,
a shared smile cuts an exit from emptiness and two pass through, as the gates to the garden move open,
love calls magic to exist, and you cannot know magic without it
love is the unforbidding of itself. The releasing, revealing, recognizing, and receiving of itself.
Love makes possible both flight, and the ascendant soul.
Love is the heart at last released outside to run and play like joyful dogs along the river trail
Love is restoration, the engine of forgiveness, and the place made ready for peace. The place where differences matter least.
Love is the gravity of life.

Love is the unreserved kiss, it is lust turned sacrament, the unshaming of Adam and Eve, the many economies of joy
love is the absurd, complete undeserved welcome of our truest self by its truest twin,
Love is what mirrors see in themselves.

 

Hugh Miller

 

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“Wherever she was, there was Eden” Adam lamenting beside Eve’s grave.  – Mark Twain


There is a deep mysterious ocean of strangers.
Everyone we know once rose from its cool depths, just breaking the surface at first,
then growing almost imperceptibly into an island, and finally a settled, mapped territory.

When love fails they become enemy lands or sink once more below the surface,
no longer known, only remembered, then less remembered, a void in the dark ocean.
Some we cry for. Some become home then suddenly collapse, leaving us in ice water a mile deep.

The rarest become Eden and we ourselves, exiles forever.
The Cupid cherub with love’s arrows becomes the cherubim with a flaming sword at the gate who stands down only to God.
Far from paradise, we hold our hand in the fire of memory, because the pain of remembering Eden lost, is better than forgetting Eden.

You are my Eden, my innocence lost, my flowering trees and peaceful beasts, my sweet water, my unknown nakedness, my new world.

We release thousands of people each year into the oblivion of unremembering.
Most without effort, as naturally as snow melts.
A few flicker on and off a while, distant lightning.

I cannot forget you, and I mean to say that it is impossible.
Because you are not a memory, you are part of me.
You are my daily experience though far away and stubbornly mute. My heart outside my body.

I feel your emotions. I feel love, sorrow, fear.
They are mine too, OUR love, sorrow, and fear.
our yearning aches, and answers through the distance between us like the troubled harmony of wolf howls.

When I release you, you do not become enemy land or a sunken void.
You and I are volcanic, rising at a distance from the same boiling sea floor
from the same restless faultline in the fiery earth. When I release you, if anything, you grow.

In the dream:

Our black islands surge and merge, they grow by push and rise by struggle.
Two lost Edens become a mountain, paradise is reborn, and innocence renewed,
beside the sweet water, underneath the flowering trees.

 

Hugh Miller

 

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You are where you are going. When you remember where that was.
In the middle of life you found yourself in a dark wood, dazed and shaken,
circling slowly in the reeds, crashed in the ditch beside the road,
or stalled with a dead battery where some cruelty left you broken and alone.

And perhaps that’s where you dropped the map. Where love failed with a slammed door
and left you alone you on a sidewalk downtown, with a child holding your hand.
and from that day home wasn’t home, it was a hideout, a lean-to, a make do, a rented perch to hold
and protect the sacred half broken love that you gathered up gently and held in a blanket on your lap
Whispering “don’t worry love, I’ll be your home, home is where we are together”
as the wind shook the walls.

You remembered home, and knew it must still be somewhere
whole and golden, simple and safe, true and untouched
by the callous fist that you witnessed batter it coldly down.
On the hurried shores of every day – and through every night with and without sleep,
you and home called to each other across the dark, never finding the others hand.

But the map waits where you dropped it, and shows where you placed your mark and
Home comes home when two souls bless it with one true love
and two souls make one open heart,
and a single  forever
with a single YES
that outweighs
every maybe, and “for a while” in this world.

 

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the first thing you lose is the comfortable
story of how much time you have ahead
It’s clothing, a drape, wrapped around you,
Ripped away, you are naked instead

existence is naked, sky and earth,
future and past, in the raw.
Aghast and shaken, you feel at once
the unfairness of it all:

Cruel and cold beyond measure,
beyond measure, because now,
as never before –
you have nothing left at all,

and nothing raced across everything
unwinding at terrible speed.

A white-hot voice without a sound
filled the earth and shook the ground.
YOU WASTED YOUR TIME
YOU DID NOT LOVE
YOU WASTED YOUR TIME
YOU DID NOT LOVE ENOUGH
LOOK AT HOW YOU SHOULD HAVE LOVED

Four faces appeared inside my heart
four faces of the ones I love
The ones I love with all my heart
with each, shame shook me like a rag
and showed me who I should have been
and showed me what I should have done and
Every way I should have loved
those who were my few, and one.

I ached for them, despaired for them,
despaired and ached for me.
somewhere in here, it shifted
and I began to see,

I saw that I wasn’t dying,
I saw that I had some time
but relief was shouldered to the side
by the burning truth that I now knew
from the moment that I thought I died

 

Hugh Miller

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In the morning before dawn, I know west is the direction of my feet. Soon it will be the direction where I don’t see the sun but the sun sees me, finger pointed at my back, never takes a break.I smell water everywhere but it’s useless, molecules under pebbles, if I could lift a square acre and tilt it toward a drinking glass would a teaspoon be a good guess? Or less? Too challenging for an ant to slake his thirst. What is smaller than an ant and needs water? I forget again. Remember yesterday? I panicked and tried to hide from the sun, and finding nothing to get in or behind, tried to run, a scarecrow late for work. Blisters down there somewhere still talking about it, I miss grass.Bad dad in back of my head reminds me today might be it, possibly tomorrow, definitely not much more than that. “I know, shut up” I say and all the little water molecules that were close enough to hear, quiver uncomfortably “don’t worry” I say gently”you’re safe from me, you little fuckers.”  The horror in the east clears his throat with the first noticeable light. “I’m going” I tell something, and rise up to the person position, my body feels like a bunch of badly tied strings, the knots are getting looser every day.

~

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I have stood on beaches and in forests eating solitude like beef stew,
I have smiled at parties with loneliness bones stuck in my throat,
I have turned from a friend parting as if to a better friend &
and I’ve dreaded goodbye and the descent to my own dark company.

what is it that is full when emptiness can fill us?
& what is empty when abundance leaves us starving?
what is this tide that rises and retreats in us?
what moon does it follow?

I have raced along the beach in twilight
to catch that tide and swim with it
avoiding the strewn once loved things
abandoned in the sand, denying that I am one of them
though I am here and alone

the ocean withdrew and left a desert here
I settle down in the bleak dunes and wait, my head full
of calling seabirds and crashing waves.

 

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“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.”

Wendell Berry

 

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There is a wolf in me . . . fangs pointed for tearing gashes . . . a red tongue for raw meat . . . and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fox in me . . . a silver-gray fox . . . I sniff and guess . . . I pick things out of the wind and air . . . I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers . . . I circle and loop and double-cross.

There is a hog in me . . . a snout and a belly . . . a machinery for eating and grunting . . . a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me . . . I know I came from salt-blue water-gates . . . I scurried with shoals of herring . . . I blew waterspouts with porpoises . . . before land was . . . before the water went down . . . before Noah . . . before the first chapter of Genesis.

There is a baboon in me . . . clambering-clawed . . . dog-faced . . . yawping a galoot’s hunger . . . hairy under the armpits . . . here are the hawk-eyed hankering men . . . here are the blonde and blue-eyed women . . . here they hide curled asleep waiting . . . ready to snarl and kill . . . ready to sing and give milk . . . waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird . . . and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want . . . and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.

 

Carl Sandburg

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The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

– GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

(all poems are half asleep till you read them aloud, read this aloud to yourself and you will shiver with the beauty)

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pity this busy monster, manunkind,
not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)
plays with the bigness of his littleness
— electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born — pity poor flesh
and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical
ultraomnipotence. We doctors know
a hopeless case if — listen: there’s a hell
of a good universe next door; let’s go

— e. e. cummings

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