There have been many
who have gone before me
and their courage,
makes me more courageous.
Their words and songs
make me feel seen,
and now I have power
where there was despair.
When I did not have a voice,
they spoke for me.
When I did not have the will,
they sang over me.
I am learning more
about my power,
but power isn’t always
stern and serious,
You see, when my smile is wide like the sunset,
and my laughing
become a mighty power of their own.
I want to dip into the cool water
I want to refresh myself
on the fountain of grace.
If I sound preachy,
then let me preach something
that I believe in:
Kindness is power.
I want to see more of it.
I want to fill my eyes with it during the day
So much so, that when I dream,
All I can dream is kindness.
I want to kill my selfishness.
I want to put to death things that should die.
I want to water the things that should live.
I want kindness to grow
And I want it to take root in my heart.
I want kindness to grow,
because kindness is my power.
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.
In poetry, everyone seems to know what kind of tree.
“Crickets cry by the black walnut tree.”
Everyone knows what color the gardenias are and they don’t have to ask what part of the world gardenias are from.
The red-bellied birds are from this place and the black-capped ones are from that one.
The Ottoman Empire ended precisely then.
Job was obviously feeling this when his new family arrived from God.
The stars above Washington state twinkle differently than they do in the south of France.
An esplanade is the same as a promenade.
It’s obvious to each dramatic, idyllic, one of them.
But it ain’t so obvious to me.
In poetry, everyone seems to know what kind of tree.
What if we gave out love
like bags of candy at halloween.
What if we went door to door
and told people we love them
without ever having to say the words.
What if the whole world loved
their neighbor. And I mean just
their next door neighbor.
I see a new future for us,
A new trajectory, where we give
out our love like bags of candy
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.