October 24, 2016

Reflection (Growth)

I change myself with untruths,
I tell lies about myself until they become
molds I can fit into, and the former truths
wither and wane

I drive alone past the lake, and the lanterns are
paralyzed fire reflected beneath the utter smooth,
the utter still. The night is the hills above the water, where
I drive alone through October and Octobers past

I pray for peace, I pray for something to break the peace, I pray
the Lord’s prayer a dozen times because it is not my words,
because I cannot trust my words, and breaths of prayer settle
on the windshield, let my breath be a conduit for the truth transcending me

I know beauty is reaching for things outside myself, it is
forgetting myself for a moment, it demands love because
it is outside self, and love is selfless. I embrace my hollowness, I say
my thanks for it, I ask not for fulfillment but for understanding

I park at the dam, I run across the ridge and see nothing but
a lone light settling on the water far below, falling and free.
I hear dogs barking in the trees, I retreat into my car and wish
I had stayed longer, run further

I let the radio soar over the contours of the road, ‘All things grow,
All things grow,’ and I grow a little more, a little older, I remember
looking into the swaying mirror with cider humming in my temples,
I remember seeing how lined and weathered I will be at fifty, at sixty

I drive at fifty, at sixty, at seventy, I slow, I slow,
I try to reconcile accepting myself and changing myself, I try
to reconcile anything I can, I wonder if all things are too unslowing
to ever justify leaving, forgetting, severing friendships

I drive into the fog, the radio swells, the strings crescendo,
the bells chime for lost time, ringing a tempo for the chorus
of all memory. The brass surges up a major scale, and I remember
my capacity for worship, how I want to make it a ritual without losing awe

I have been selfish, I decide to let go, but the joyful things fall away and the
lowest weights remain. I remember to look outside myself for everything that matters,
for everything to make me grow, but still I hold on, still I ache, and the radio
reminds, ‘He takes and he takes and he takes.’ 

October 15, 2016

The Seer's Lament

Death I know, in each of its sallow forms;
it is the clock past midnight, past all allotted time,
with its hands arcing in cycles of tarnished brass,
tarnished eons, its fingers prodding, asking to hurry please,
pointing past the countries of shadow.
Yes, it is knotted metal, warmed by flames from
gasoline that once hurled it unknotted down reeling freeways.
Yes, it is bullets sent by envious whims, it is seawater choked
amidst the swelling of storms, it is blood smeared on lockers and
spattered on foreign soil and coughed
into the bathroom sink
in the middle of the night when it is too late.
But it is also smoke blown above icing, it is
a first word, a first love, it is
training wheels coming off, and it is
weary eyes sending back all the glow of squandered days,
sending it back toward the speckled starlit chambers
where it first shone.

What is beyond death I know, I have seen it in rifts
in dusky skies where the memory of light sieves through,
the memory of all light, it is enough to devour suns,
yet instead it drenches the edges of clouds and drizzles orange upon
the crests of mountains, it gilds treetops and immerses us with
yearnings for far-off lives in far-off realms.
I have seen it in the corners of smiles, in generously tossed coins,
in naked embraces and quiet voices. I can imagine it in
the hills that ascend toward the stars at night, where
we star-watchers climb a grassy swaying stairway toward untold lands.

But what is before death I do not know;
in each thing I see an end, I see
a glimpse of foretold splendor after that.
I want to listen to the infant cries in the next room over
and sense in them not a last breath, echoing backward hushed,
nor the transcendent crescendo that comes afterward,
but the momentary vitality of the cry itself. Yet life
evades me always, or so I think, I see loss
in every gaze, I hear the roaring of time without end,
it thunders in my ears like the sea, billowing boundless,
a knell humming beneath the mortal crust, humming against it
but never quite splintering through.

To deafen my ears but once to the inescapable tide, that would be enough,
I know – if I could attend but once to the gentle laughs and gentle sighs,
the simple sounds I believe must break the silence
there.

October 8, 2016

For the Reservoir and the Summer Roads, in All Their Solitude

remembered star-beams drape these blacktop branches,
streets with the dripping light of remembrance,
streets with the coals of wishes, wished upon
in summer nights, the radio takes wing

embers settle in asphalt, draw their glow from street lamps,
drunk from the city electricity once embered
drunk from the cider in the backseat, back before
the lilting clocks chime, the cedars sing

dreams must find our eyes, must show the constellations
the truth of their pupiled reflections, long since dreamt;
the truth of their unwhispered promises, once kept
by the weight of our youth, the school bells ring

reunion in fields, on hilltops, near the reservoir hollow
where the tires yet slumber, bottle shards reunite
where the clinking toasts remembered reside, last heard
in slipping hours, the yearnings simmer and sting

here again we ask the first questions that found one voice,
our voice unanswered, again it waits, it wallows here
our voice unswallowed, God above listens silent, lets us wonder
what we must bring, what we must bring.