The meaning unfolds and ebbs downriver
to the banks of a town that I faintly remember.
I’m not in a woven basket or nothing,
it’s not so biblical and serious,
but I am more buoyant than I would have imagined.
Every thought in my life is swirling underneath me,
the bad ones and the good ones.
I’m glad they kinda even out for the most part;
and the water is a pleasant temperature for the day.
I’m sorta suspended there, hanging, by the banks
of that town, so I decide to get up outta the water;
inspect the downtown and ya know … people watch.
There’s a lot of people I remember and some I don’t,
They’ve got other things on their mind so they pass me by.
The metaphor for life and death is a river, I always thought it’d be a train station.
(On returning back to Cincinnati after a road trip to see a best friend from college)
There was a time when my feeling of home was neat.
Neat like a young boy dressed up in polished, brown
leather shoes, creased slacks and a multicolored,
polo shirt from Kohl’s that cost $12.50.
I was not a troubled boy from a troubled home,
nor was I an Airforce brat tucking my teddy goodnight
in twelve different coastal cities before the age of 10.
My feeling of home, as I said, was neat.
The postman delivered my mail, mostly from relatives
at the time, for well over fifteen years … until he retired and
we got a postwoman (how progressive). We stayed in
one place so long we saw the rise and fall of a man’s entire career.
All I was really certain of was the feeling of home I felt.
There were tears for missed kisses and for scraped knees,
but there was always a bedroom to retreat to. And there
was always a stocking with my name on the Christmas mantle.
I haven’t had a feeling of home like that in twelve years.
The ‘something solid’ has been missing from my heart
and I’ve been balancing my emotions as well as
sub-prime mortgage spending at the millennium’s turn.
I’ve lived in houses since, yes, not homes. Not my home anyway.
Maybe we are all just strangers missing the same made-up
feeling of home. If we have no place to rise from, to retreat to,
to protect and keep, will we ever feel complete?
My name is carved into the wood under the marble countertop
in the kitchen at the address of 185 Nod Road Ridgefield,
Connecticut, where once stood my home.
It has since been painted over.
I spoke to an old friend today.
It had been awhile since the
last phone call.
But it didn’t matter.
I saw the soccer fields in my
hometown as she was talking.
I saw the banking, twisting roads.
I was home for a moment.
I was back home.
Poetry stands alone, different from song.
It speaks with a singular voice, not chorus.
It’s often the voice of your grandmother, I’m told.
She is old as old can be, generations flow through her.
In that way, a poem is in chorus, the murmuring of many
But mostly a singular voice, your grandmother’s.
Not aloud, but in your head.
He’s got his finger on the pulse – heart beating, thumping, pumping blood to his extremities with a resounding thwack. The bass drum pounds, feet down, stomp because he feels something.
We don’t contemplate jazz anymore, Alan. We howl and wail against hermetically sealed
pop music and her perverse soullessness. Perfect and empty. Unblemished and unattainable. Utmost beauty in a vacuum; cartoonish and ballooning, expanding in every direction; gobbling up talent and creativity in a plundering gluttony.
Take every breath out and missed note and brighten the blues to a soft periwinkle. Remove our humanity from the track. Take her voice and record it 500 hundred consecutive times; compressing the sound of her grandmother into a thin, indistinguishable reed.
You said you wanted pop, but instead you got this.
My creativity is not a commodity. My musical mind is not for sale. My worth is tied to something else, I’m afraid, my imprisonment is out on bail. You cannot buy my peace from me and leave ‘worry’ on my stoop. I will not open bills from the likes of those, living in a feedback loop.
My hope is not a bargaining chip, much less my cartwheels in the sun. I have developed calluses from a long race being run. The toughness of my tender heart, an oxymoron in the least – though you must mind my six foot sword, if you call yourself a beast.
Frivolity, like eating cake, is a business of my own. You might call my work a sort of ‘laziness,’ pout and lip at my poems. Meditation is nay a waste – for the productivity you seek. I’m waiting for that fateful day when progress ain’t so chic.
Take my clothes. Take my house. Do with possessions as you please. But carefully watch your materialisms falling to their knees. My creation equals sanity – a bottle rocket headed such. It’s just for me, all my own, if ya like it, thank ya much.
I’ve always admired the graceful movements of a trained dancer who moves each limb deliberately and with such purpose. It’s thoughtful and balanced; mindful of each timed second that passes. It actually speaks to me in a way that I don’t expect, like there is, in fact, order to all of this swirling madness and it makes me think, I would like to see, at some point, the gears move behind this elaborate clock and pay attention to all that I am currently missing.
The concrete truth of my youth
is now a malleable putty
slipping through my fingers.
I much prefer the solid nature;
so stern and unyielding.
Now, I look down the barrel to
this kaleidoscopic goop –
rainbowing permanent circles
into my vision; bending back onto
itself in an accordion fold.
It used to be “THE TRUTH” with
all capital letters, but now it’s
“your truth” all lowercased.
I forget where I am all the time
and step into the frame a
second late, it seems.
The truth is less like a police
officer and more like a prisoner
serving time for a crime he did
I fear I was trying to enforce
the wrong things … and they
listened to me anyway.
I am a little late, but no matter
Down the lane, past the snow
brushed street, through the hush
of thicket, over the icy brook and
up; there is a sparking light in
the night sky glad to be nestled
Northmost against the heavens.
The light waves like a fire’s dance,
glinting a multi-facet in the seeker’s
eyes; beautiful in its radiance.
This star reminds us most of a
Bethlehem’s birth, carrying a
Messenger into the world with a
letter in his pocket of love and
I have, at times, forgotten the tone
of the letter, but will do my best
to remember it this season.
Let’s help the lost find their
way again. Let’s see our homes
restored. Let’s be a symbol of grace
incarnate, filled with light and love.
Please, let us be kind to every,
single, living thing.
Maybe you are like me and get lost
in the unanswerable questions. There
is a line I often repeat when I have
come to a breaking point, ‘If Jesus is
for the poor, then I am for Jesus.’
Merry Christmas to you.
I haven’t written in a while.
My hands almost forgot what to do.
The busy things have gobbled up,
my time and strength again.
I have now settled
into a new home after five years dwelt
in a little room with white walls,
to a new room, grander.
I have stayed within the city limits,
though I changed my zip.
From one University’s lawn to another,
Don’t worry, I won’t lose my crosstown allegiances.
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure
how my mind would rest a few boroughs away.
I was a skeptic, muttering un-niceties
Under my breath while I moved
boxes twice my girth (a hard thing to imagine)
up and down, up and down staircase steps,
with no end in sight it seemed.
I swear when I get rich,
I’m going to sit in a beach chair
pointing to young, burly gentlemen
that my shit should go a little to the left.
Cocktail in my hand, cigarette in the other.
My body aches from packing my things
into cars and pickup trucks,
I wouldn’t (Well, I Would)
wish it on my seventh grade english teacher
(otherwise known as my worst enemies).
We’ll see what this move does to my psyche,
I’m still not where I’d like to be, but a change of place
could welcome some unforeseen magic.