Monday, April 15, 2019

Poem

Dollhouse

Last lunches suck.
You had turned your head,
swollen eyes waterlogged red.

By then
we’d given up all hope.
To go on seemed dumb,
an effort entirely unreasonable.
But I noticed that your coffee cup, half full,
suddenly seemed
to be shrinking.
Miniaturized, like gazing
through the wrong end of a telescope,
a tiny dollhouse accessory
delicately pinched between finger and thumb.


But perspective is all relative.
Maybe it wasn’t even lunch.
No one was hungry.
The food remained untouched.
All the things were still the same old size


But the distorting effects of distance:
the way cars become toys
and people seem like ants
when the plane rises into the sky


Or a rocket blasting into orbit:
the moment when the seal on the airlock breaks
and everything I adore
sucked
into the void of space.
I can still see them, tiny specks,
soon to be indistinguishable from stars.
And I’m still here clinging to this iron bar
as hard as i can; it hurts.


(Smack the red button)


It’s just a reflex.
And the doors start to close.
Soon gravity will be restored.
Everything returns to its proper perspective.
But I have a few seconds:
time has started to go slow:
all I’d have to do is let go


4/15/19


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Poem

Crossroads

The great conundrums in life don’t
always come to a crossroads.
The big decisions rarely culminate
in a forked path that will render your fate.
We’re stressed by a world of binary divergences,
always ruing the roads left untraveled.

The toughest choices in life
are never about turning left or right,
then stumbling a little further ahead
until you come to the next split:
only to choose again and
choose again and
choose again.

I’ve learned to accept indecision
as a necessary distillation
of the tension between living
and its infinite series
of one-chance choosings.

When you come to the crux
it’s best to retreat to the dark wood;
that rough undiscovered country
for which there are no printed maps
and the canopy of green blacks
out all guiding stars.

You cannot memorize this terrain.
Etch your marks on the tree bark in vain:
You cannot blaze a trail.
You won’t leave behind a trace.
You lack the skill to sketch your beloved’s face.
All efforts at capture are doomed to fail.

But all along the journey something is happening
as the vastness of unfamiliarity engulfs
(positional certainty unessential to the existential).
All those conjured mental maps de-materialize.
Your compass just spins
and spins
and spins.

Stopping to lean against some old gnarled oak
or this chipped gray boulder,
to rest in the sun….
the weeds and trees and wildflowers
oblivious to your passing presence.
All paths are doomed to impermanence;
the forest is always closing in.

There are destinations that cannot be named.
There are routes that are only traveled once.
This is the end of a journey.
This is where it all begins.
Stopping is not a surrender;
if you don’t pause
the old ways can never be sundered

You have found your long lost home;
it was always present in the heretofore
wide, unroofed frontier of alone.
You don’t need to know where you are anymore
or where you are going….
It’s not about finding or choosing
but the prospect of being found.

You’ve seen the tracks,
heard branches snap;
you know someone is out there searching,
probing every square inch
of this primeval hinterland,
becoming more and more lost
in your endless uncharted wilderness.

This is where you will start your fire.  
Send your plumes of smoke ever higher.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Poem for Dad on 70th Birthday

Love, Dad


I thought I knew my father best on the handball court;
watching him down below from balconies as a boy,
his muscular body coiled to strike the hard black ball
as it wrapped around the white cement back wall.


I also knew my father in suits and ties.
The smell of his cologne.
The power of his hugs when he finally got home.


I knew my father by his sighs
and darting glances
that told me I’d lost his attention,
temporarily passed from his field of vision.


I knew him by his boxy squared off printed letters.
And his looping baroque cursive.
Love Dad, Love Dad, he always signed his notes and presents,
tracing my finger tip over the black ink.


I knew my father when his hair began to turn;
senatorial gray temples
and then a moon white silver.
I knew him by the slight limp
that deliberated into a mechanical lumbering
after he got his new knees.


I could write a paragraph on his golf swing.
His forehand slice down the line
The perfect way he parted his hair
His tiny razor teeth
His famous impatience
His unwavering self belief.  
I knew him by his strength
His courage
His indefatigable will.
But I also knew him by
his frauds and flaws and faults.
And I said to myself: these are the main things to know.


But now I know I knew him least of all.
These things I decided I knew
were both true and untrue,
real and imagined.
There is too much to know.
The mind must make decisions
which then become barriers
to the only knowns that matter.


Just as a child doesn’t choose the things he remembers,
all fathers and sons
just sort of end up with each other
without much say in the matter.
Over time they see only reflections
of themselves in each other
instead of the flickering glint of glorious light
that was there from the beginning.


All that he is, I am not.
And all that he’s not, I’m always claiming to be.
And so the stories they tell about dad and son
are just the stories they’ve been meaning to tell
about their own respective selves.
A conjured cloud of unknowing,
a long wasted prelude,
to an ending that was there all along.


A father just wants to be followed.
And the son just wants to be seen.
Why does it take so long
for them to see that this is just
two sides of the same old thing,
opposite faces of the truest,
most natural species of love?


Maybe I did know him best of all
down there on the courts, years ago
surrounded by four cement walls,
my eyes wide in wonder and awe.
And maybe that’s when he knew me best,
turning to point to his son in the balcony
after an ace or a hustling dig,
his face young and unhurried,
his own eyes wide in wonder and awe,
to have his boy, here, watching it all
right here between these four walls.


The father gives life
And the son receives.
And the father now sees that he is seen,
that he is known,
by a boy who carries the same fire
the same spark in his eye
that someday he will find
in a boy of his own.

1/3/2019