It takes only a moment,
The space between whispers of wind
On a scorching September day
As the sun roasts pavement
Two feet from where shadow shelters
A wilting garden unaware
Of how little time it has left,
And the past mixes with the present.
Fingers tracing rows and lines,
Too large now to intertwine
With the holes left in the table
Made of rubber-coated steel,
But still looking for something to hold.
As someone who is examining low-cost holiday present ideas for this absolute disaster of a fiscal year, I’ll admit that I find myself somewhat frustrated that I can’t really fall back on my creative talents. Musicians can record songs, visual artists can offer pieces of their work, and craftspeople can give excellent handmade gifts. If your skill is words, it is a lot more difficult. I had an excellent gift from a friend that was a treasured memory written in beautiful prose, but I myself am not so inclined. Partly because I’m skilled at producing lots of words but feel like the weave of my prose is lacking, and partly because I genuinely don’t have many memories that aren’t tinged by sadness or loneliness.
A simple shifting of feet
As movement changes from past my door
To through it and I,
Lost in some deep reverie,
Move from past to present
To catch a smile, warm and expectant,
But betrayed by a furrowed brow.
Hollow words meet hollow eyes,
Or at least they should read as hollow.
I can never tell if what I feel
Is written as plainly on my face
As it is written in my heart.
I cannot tell if I am haunted
Or trapped in an endless reverberation.
Words from the past beat upon my mind
Again and again and again and again
Until I cannot tell if they are newly repeated
Or just bouncing around my head
Like an echo that draws strength and volume
From the walls I’ve put in place
To keep words like these out.
You spoke to me of comfort
And camaraderie in a too-late attempt
To stave off something you sense
Is growing ever closer,
A shadow you see in every mirror
But whose shape you seem unwilling to acknowledge
No matter how many times I describe it.
These friendly words ring hollow,
Changing from your voice to mine
As I remember every time
someone said them to me,
All the louder for these echoes of the past
That refuse to be stifled,
Amplified by the utter emptiness
Of everything you said just now.
You told me, hollow words
That I longed to fill with the rage
Welling up inside me,
That I should not suffer in silence.
But this silence was never mine to end.
The silence that has forced this empty exchange
Was a monster of your creation
And I have merely been its victim.
Hung out to dry so long ago, both I
And your vacant platitudes,
Have long since withered.
The hollowed ground I once claimed
Matches the concavity of your starved expressions
And I am left alone
Except for the indiscernible echoes
Of your words to me
As we are both reduced to rubble
By the impervious wall
Of your past silence.
The early dawn light,
Too strong and eager to ignore
Even under the cover of sleep
That calls to me like a languid lover
Not ready to release me
From my place by their side,
Breaks apart the restless peace
Of a night I hardly marked
As I tumble from my bed
In an admission of defeat
And slowly begin a sour morning
I had hoped would instead be sweet.
I’ve had this idea for a poem I want to write for months now. I want to capture the simple peace and joy of sipping coffee on my porch as early morning sunlight beams down on me. Since I have no deadlines and I want to savor the moment before I capture it, I’ve been waiting for my next chance to do that. Unfortunately, due to various complications, I haven’t actually had such a morning in a long while.
To launch the 2021 version of my blog and mark the start of daily updates (more on that tomorrow), have the poem that ends with the text from the title page of my blog that was inspired by my camping trip where I took the picture used as the backdrop of the title page.
The small words
Lost in a paragraph
As you’re told your feelings
Are as valid and real
As your experiences.
A theme repeated
From one mouth to the next
While all you can manage
Is a simple “thank you”
When you are lost in a sea
Of inescapable emotion
You can do nothing about
Until the waves pass.
I used to sleep with the window open.
The washed out yellow street light
Standing sentinel at the corner next to my driveway
Throws wild shadows on my shelves and walls
That are occasionally stretched into thin waving lines
As the bright pale blue light of the patrolling cop’s
Fluorescent headlights roll past my yard.
The silent murmur of the woods holds sway
Broken by a passing car on a distant highway,
The echoing sirens of a police car needed somewhere quick,
Or the mournful blare of a train lost somewhere in the hills.
On my worst days I am a point
Like every fevered dream
Of being too small to move
Nightmarishly trapped in place
As the world grows large around me
I am dimensionless and still
Present in space
But concerned only with the space I occupy
And the work of continuing to be