Friday's Passing Fancy/Poem: Impasse (Love Divided)

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This is not what was expected,

cascade of words scored by self-will,

hand ups, two-sided like a knife,

snapping silence that throws

a lasso about two hearts,

and despite hope’s desire

a distant warning that marks

a deeper shift in climate.

How to reconcile when before mutual care

remade all things, when now one leaves

with slight backward glance, and

the other allows a firestorm

to erupt inside a starless night,

tears to flood into a dark, unforgiving rain.

And as night grinds into reluctance of day

exhaustion weights four tentative arms:

how can reaching feel this little,

too frayed with muted fears;

how can so human a love

map out with precision and wisdom

the necessary, saving way?

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: We All Die of Something

Ruby red, small fisted, dauntless royal heart,

heart that has born me up, loaned me a life.

This heart that runs of its own accord,

with daily rescues, with my will as cohort.

How it keeps thumping, pushing,

sweet talking despite time or errors, passions

wearing out me out, the cumulative years

like sand falling, driven against stone,

and wind gnarling the once green tree.

 

I call out to it even as it labors,

don’t let me down, dance me just so,

grow old at home behind the light armor

of ribs with a proprietary peace.

And still it heeds my pleas.

I carry it into the ruins of the world,

into dangers of ordinary living,

and tentative runs with silver hair flying, on walks

with legs that push until my breath shortens,

squeezes me to a stop. I count the seconds,

eyes widely watering, back to passersby

until we can go on, panting,

dash through tender or cutting rains,

under sun’s umbrella, in moonlight’s whisper

and the trees, who know everything.

You feel with me as they wave, rivers flash,

and other creatures call.

You feel because I feel. Or is it

the other way around, my friend?

 

The rest we manage, too, madcap

mysteries and random muttering spiked

with bolts of anger and deep weeping wells,

sorts of things few might admit but we cannot deny.

We are comrades, more than this,

confessor and confessed,

body and soul.

 

So today when the one (who 20 years ago

salvaged us) intones with smile and handshake

doing well once more, keep up the great work,

stop worrying because you know

we all die of something-

I lift you, my heart, out into the world

feeling more brave and sturdy but this, too:

five more years, ten more years. Please.

When all that exists for us is this moment,

old heart, so let us know the glory of it.

the golden romance of another reprieve.

Good heart, it only comes to this, 

that we shall live and live and pass as one

 

Friday's Passing Fancy: A Shadow Life/Light of Sobriety

My instinct is to pause near the weakened

and set apart, those men who shuffle bayside

with drooping eyes and lax arms as if waiting for a ferry

that has never come for them so why stay,

those women whose lips are dusted with crumbs,

no drink to wet and warm the slow tongue.

They speak different languages or none at all

but their stillness or words slip about me like lassos;

I am tugged toward a hidden cry of a mind

that seeks and cannot find.

It makes me homesick

for a happiness that can come to all.

You pull back- say we all must find our own way.

Distance may be the strong fence that keeps you in

a safer place, away from possibilities of

madness or privation, as if that suffering

will resurrect yours, bring you to your knees.

I say let us all kneel and nod in recognition:

humanity is dragged through life as well as lifted.

Let us net pain and give it refuge,

carry to brazen streets or yielding sky

any pleas for mercy as a potent offering.

Let slouching man and thirsty woman

meet our eyes with theirs and be known,

feel no shame of crippling loss. It is no sin

to be alive and stumble or to sense

an invisible gathering of angels or others

as their hearts labor for them without judgement.

To be is all any of us we have;

we are each given this, our chance.

Once we were closer to this than believed:

one man, one woman who carved

obdurate caves in which to conspire or hide,

and came the drink, a failed banishment of grief’s specter,

and the drug, a frail bandage to repair bloodletting.

Listen, I know those ones are my people as much

as those who manage dawn to dark with boldness,

heads so high. They have their own tender spots,

their lack of surety. I am not fooled.

I am versed in the strategies it takes to live.

You and I live like common meadowlarks,

migratory, adaptive, field and wood, art and hope

and Divinity the common passkeys

as we careen through lighting strikes of love or fury,

and ride on a wind that sings hallelujah

then drops us in mud and shining grasses.

Earthbound, still.

We know that sun and moon light disguise

and reveal, that shadows and darkness

do the same. One cannot live without

learning navigation, noting signs, getting honest.

But the truth is a shape shifter:

though we live in plenty and strength now

we could be leaning over water’s edge,

or crouched with bread heel in trembling hands

and passersby would turn their heads

only to become blind, or to soon forget.

We must never forget our sisters and brothers,

their bravery and their ache,

what we were, too, yet were welcomed

into a circle and given reprieve.

We must not forget this, how tenuous the line,

and give not pity but dignity,

an easy nod, good word, a signal of love.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: That was Then and Now

That was then, when the movements

of every heavenly body and two of us

were a certainty beyond all chaos.

I understood your soundlessness,

I who floated up from and dove into

star-netted deep of words.

Your language: hands on wood, brass,

dismissive of barriers not made for

one afire with his own heat and light.

And who cooled with lack of same.

It was my part to call to you,

tears like pearls pried loose

for all you did not let go;

and fingertips like moons, suns

scattered across your skin.

This is the time and the way

we breathed at the thin rim of this world

when every miraculous secret thing will

come forward, and humanity set free.

But I am still waiting in wilderness

while you have traveled on.

This is now, but it may as well

be then, movements of planetary power

still a symmetry that answers or echoes

my thoughts as I stride into dark

of winter and you, body-less, flee the night

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: New Talk, Old Talk (for Craig)

We friends learning each other carry stories–

being told them, telling them ourselves–

and speaking for myself moving

like a thief to steal this or that one

from pockets of thin air–

and we trade one chapter for another

in the corner coffee spot: talk reveals things,

talk connects.

But I am in between the moments

as treetops gather and release

sweet bits of sun, gold gleanings of time.

Gratitude spills from our lips

while in me an ache drifts by, a pale feather.

Loss bleeds, though I say only that

a sorrowful message came early today.

Strange how one thing begins, another leaves off;

breathlessness coexists with breathing;

victory is won for some as others flail in darkness.

That one may have left the earth without

one’s hand in another’s–this thought stabs me–

and that hope is held close until there is nothing

brave enough to prop it up against emptiness,

so is abandoned:

this is not what I speak about.

That knowledge slips through a safety net

of words that holds fast the fragrant coffee shop

and moors me–and others–to the ordinary world.

But later on, when on my walk unspooling in the hills,

there are pines that offer themselves

as protection against wind’s wounding

and my legs and heart propel me to the crest,

November cold ripening, roughing my skin.

And as I pause in a swath of sunshine there

comes a whistle through a maze of branches

that holds, a moment, then releases your name.

But I hear it, feel it as I stand alone by the road,

and it’s like a passing train on a high ridge