Category Archives: Poetry
To a Friend
What we were looking for
in the words before us
had been all but lost,
a vague clue
that drove us on
even when we thought
all the reasons in the world
couldn’t save us
from our own resignations.
The poet might have had some
words for us,
a moment captured,
suspended in words,
waiting to again
come to life;
or a feeling,
burned and etched forever
onto the paper,
onto the right eye.
The pilot, too, might
have had some
words for us,
the sight of the world
so far beneath our feet,
the incredible lightness of the
to remind us just how small
to remind us just how large
are better than others,
and when the paper
holds no fire,
or when the sky
holds no lightness
light enough for you
it’s better just to hear
a simple greeting
“How are you?”
Somewhere in the Middle
I wanted to know, or at least to believe
that I knew, or at least to feel as if I knew.
So I searched through the vast emptiness
that stretched overhead and in every other direction,
through the pins of old light that remind us of distance,
through the wisps of vapor huddled together,
drifting across the sky, gathering until it was time
to return to the earth to grace the heads of the
grateful and ungrateful alike.
There was no sorrow in the empty streets with
their pale lights, nor was there joy or any of
those other fleeting human emotions, just
a tranquil chill that my heart tried and failed to mimic.
There were moments here, crystallized in the
ghostly cones of light, in the refuse that could
occasionally be found abandoned on the sides
of the road. The world suffered not the twang
of heart-strings, its disinterested, ceaseless flow of
energy a distinct, if not somewhat contradictory
reminder of constancy.
Would I know beauty’s face when it stared into mine?
Nature seemed a mess of contradiction, a beauty that
found its perfection in its imperfection, in the way
it sprawled across the earth without the art of rhyme
nor the precision of reason, only a detached poetry
written in moments for the restless eye or the twitching ear.
Beautiful in life, beautiful in death, beautiful in the circle
which united life and death, beautiful in the realization
that there was no life and death, just an eternal flow
of energy, come full round in spirals. Who can say that
they know what beauty is when it has so many forms?
Who can say that they do not know what beauty is when
it has so many forms?
An old itch was beginning to form, a memory of the idea
that knowledge rarely brought anyone any real happiness.
So I felt with my head and thought with my heart, and my soul
remained in its place, the world flipped upside down. Perhaps
there is no down nor up, just the feeling of things being the way
they should be. The universe was vast in its completion,
miniscule in its particulars, and I was left standing somewhere
in the middle of it all, precisely in a position to marvel at it all,
precisely in a place to admire the beauty of not knowing,
precisely where I should be.
What more do atoms bind
than the eyes which do find
objects, an infinite fold,
their stories all untold?
Of what more do lips speak
than mountain spring and river creek,
than star fires all aglow,
than northern winds all ablow?
And what more, oh, what more,
of thumb and fingers four,
of their industry which doth make,
of their gall, their will to take?
Tell me then, what more of sun’s fire,
without man to ever tire?
What more of planets great
without soul, beauty its to create?
If it is only through nature that we be,
then why speak any more of humanity?
I wrote this poem in response to something someone said in my class. He claimed that we are just nature, that the things we make are all just a part of nature, and that in the end, we and the things we create are nothing but nature. Indeed I have been cited to claim that a TV is as much a part of nature as we are, like how a beaver’s dam or an ant’s hill are part of nature, but I do think that there is more to man than just nature. Man is animal, but man is also more, just as a square is also a rectangle, but something more. A sun is powerful, but what is its power without man to admire it or to enjoy it? Suns are powerful, but a sun cannot imagine, cannot create worlds that do not exist, cannot do all the things that our minds can do nor feel all the things that our hearts can feel. Man is a part of and yet apart from the universe. It is our gift from the universe to recreate it in our minds as something unique. We are gifted with a world that, while based on one world, is all our own. Our existence is made richer than anything else in the universe because we have the ability to perpetually enrich it with the universe.
It is through nature that we be, and it is through our humanity that we become.
Write a poem about a person who goes to a zoo that urgently wants to see an animal. It can be from the perspective of a human or an animal. It must end in a sound or a gesture.
I am perched atop the head of a
creature much clunkier than I, its
oafish charm drawing the attention
of all the children. They yell and scream
when he turns about in the cool mud,
when he widens his jaw, baring colossal teeth.
A little girl in pink denim overalls
runs to the edge of the pen and tugs
at her mother’s sleeves. “The hippos! The hippos!”
The mother looks down at her child and
knows that this has been a successful trip:
“Yeah sweetie, just like in your book!”
I stretch my neck to put on a show,
I stretch my wings to make myself known.
But alas they are not looking at me,
I know they are not looking at me.
For I am not a bird atop a hippo’s head,
but a hippo with a bird atop its head.
~~~EDIT 11/20/12: Very slight changes.~~~
The Joy of Time
They say the joy of birth is in a moment,
the moment when lights blind you so,
the moment when warm hands make
a promise to hold you forever.
They say the joy of childhood is in
the days, the days spent peering
at tiny creatures, the days of feeling
honeyed breaths grace youthful lungs.
They say the joy of adulthood is in
the months, the months spent making
dreams become realities, the months
of watching little cries become eager voices.
They say the joy of age is in the years,
the years spent watching your dreams
realize dreams of their own, the years
of cultivating your love for all things.
They say that there is no joy in death,
but I tell you that its joy is in the moment:
the moment when the joy of life becomes
crystallized in old bones, when the eye
loses its lightness and the soul gains its own,
when a single moment becomes forevermore.
The trees speak for more than the wind
as I become the devouring maelstrom:
my body is a cloud, my voice is a hollow howl,
my feet are roots torn from their gravelly homes.
These old bones urge this young body to flee,
to take shelter in the creaks and the whispers,
in the ghosts of comforts now long gone,
in memories tethered by tenuous strings.
Yet the rain falls upon me and feeds a deep well,
and soon I am neither flesh nor bone but
the thunder of clouds, the bellow of wind,
the sky become death incarnate.
I see nothing but a fearful chorus of trees,
hear nothing but a cry echoed and reverberated.
No earthly force creates this consuming madness;
it is only my soul that sustains the chaos.
These eyes full of death search the empty sky and
tell of a place beyond the storm’s rage, beyond the
gray veil of sky, beyond even the light of the sun,
where stars wander across a deep and silent dark.