Of all the people of the world, the myriad multitude of whom I could know terror and abhoration, the one with whom I most dread to pass the twilight hours is me. Closest friend, dearest ally, harshest critic. There is no hiding any of my failure from you. No false face or kind word will turn your wrath. You see all. And in the terror of the twilight hour, as I lie in semi-state, awaiting sleep, that is when you parade before me the grandiose display of idiocy that has been my life so far, recalling every stupid thing, every careless thing, that I have ever done. And so I hide from you. I surround myself with others, and insulate me from myself. I laugh, and share, and cry, and love all who are about me, all so that I can escape you And yet... And yet, when others abandon me, you are firm. When others accuse me wrongly, you are steadfast. When others are cruel, you come to my aid. My Enemy. My Friend. My Self.
I could write volumes about you. I could describe your beauty for an age. But I could never capture the essence of you I could tell a waiting world that beauty at last has been discovered, that she walks the common streets as the breeze that moves the Carolina pines. It would not matter, nor move the world one step out of place. I could wax eloquent, saying that your smile is like removing a heavy curtain from a prismatic window and inviting the rainbow to tea. That your laugh is like a Spring morning in Capistrano. But none of this would serve to even brush gently across the surface of my love for you. Like trying to paint a picture of blindness or writing a ballad about silence it is a self-defeating exercise. For the tongue is the clumsiest of all muscles. And the pen is a blunt instrument, indeed. The words simply do not exist. And I feel all the more foolish for having tried.
I cannot be a poet. Everyone knows that poets are pendulant, pensive purveyors of perversion with a penchant for pornography. Dark, despairing, desparate souls, deigning to drown us in disonance. I cannot be a poet. Everyone knows that poets spend their time in smokey coffee houses smoking too many turkish or egyptian or clove cigarettes and wearing far too much black as they discuss the miasma of existentialism. I cannot be a poet. Poets have no time for fishing with children on a saturday afternoon, lawn-luging on a slip-n-slide, watching cartoons in their flannel pajamas, or mowing the lawn. I cannot be a poet. Poets are introspective, thoughtful, given to hours of self-examination and contemplation of the human condition mindful of symbolism and hidden meaning. I cannot be a poet. A poet comments upon the human race as an announcer from a pressbox rather than a competitor for the prize, always aloof, never involved. But I may be wrong. How else could one understand Two Roads Diverging in a Wood, that I Am the Captain of My Soul, or the Miles to Go before I may sleep? I could be wrong. For, in spite of all the many and varied stereotypes, the assumptions and guesses, the misunderstandings and deliberate, malicious lies, we are all suffering from the same tragic humanity. In the end, who am I to say? For I cannot say if I am a poet or not. It is not a self-appointed title for those who truly understand. It is, rather, an honor to be bestowed. So you tell me. Am I a poet?
Le minuit s'amuse.
Elle s'habille magnifiquement dans le mystère énigmatique.
Elle la met des peignes d'ivoire dans ses cheveux.
Ses cheveux sont les secrets de l' mille mille amoureux.
Les bandes de lumière dans ses cheveux
sont le rire épuisé de joindre
le baiser triste du départ.
Midnight amuses herself,
she enrobes herself in enigmatic mystery.
She affixes combs of ivory in her hair,
the secrets of a thousand thousand lovers.
The highlights of her hair
are the breathless laughter of the joining,
the tearful kiss of the parting.
I saw the sun rise this morning Atomic greetings of the Almighty It lifted its face above the rooftops And bid me “Carpe Diem.” Suddenly, without warning, The day has gripped me tightly As I feel my fingers slipping off my bootstraps And I quietly lose control. Time rushes by, irreverent, caring less than not at all for station Or social status of any man. King or pauper, it passes all. Our days pass on, poorly spent And all that we gain is frustration, Having cast aside yet another plan For lack of temporal currency. But, though overwhelmed by frustration, I anticipate the sublime. In the end, I know I shall lack nothing, not even time.
And so I turn to you, once again. Hat in hand, knowing full well that I have once again held your trust as a casual thing, like a bandana that I didn't understand was a final gift from your long-gone father. I turn to you, once again. Apologies are model airplanes, hard to construct, difficult to get into the ether between us and perpetually empty. And yet I offer one, once again. My mind is apt to wander, with my heart leading the way. And though I profess undying trust in you, In the end I stumble over the same stone, and wander from you, once again. But you, you understand who I am, that I am nothing more than I confess to be. You remember that my heart is like the grass, here today, but tomorrow where will it be? And you accept me, once again.
How can it be That a man could kill a dozen random people and be called a murderer, but if he should kill a single specific individual he becomes a hero? How can it be that so many say "I'll believe it when I see it" when there is so much that cannot be seen until after it is believed? How can it be that one can care so little for childern in general and yet give all they have for a single one of their own? How can it be that anyone could cast aside the love of someone who would give up everything, including life before we even knew we needed it? Can it be that life is a contradiction? that Churchill's mystery was a child's puzzle in comparison? All of life, and all of time to figure out and yet we are given so little to work with three or so pounds of meat and chemistry. How can this be?
A random encounter has brought me to this place To meet one that I’ll never see face to face. A walk through a local memorial park Brought me to your graveside, just before dark. Although you don’t know me, and our paths never crossed As I look upon you I feel a great loss. You were a soldier, you fought the Great War. You died in close combat, on a far-away shore. I imagine your mother, falling down to her knees, As thousands before her through all centuries. She wept bitter tears, she felt lost and alone, As they gave her the news that you weren’t coming home. I imagine your brother, with fury enraged. I imagine the girl to whom you’d been engaged. I imagine your father, strong but teary-eyed. I imagine you thought of them all as you died. And I see by your headstone you were just seventeen, Had not even realized all you could have been. They told you that this one would end all our pain, Would comfort our sorrows and end all our shame. So you felt that at least for some purpose you died. I’m sorry to tell you, young soldier, they lied. For twenty years later, they did it again, And ten more years later, they did it again. Then ten more years later, they did it again, And thirty years after, they did it again. So now, once again, in this Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and One, we again take the sword. It is I, now, the soldier, though not quite so young, But younger the soldiers I now stand among. It’s been over a century since you were newborn And almost as long since from you life was torn In one hundred years we have trodden time’s hall To find that we’ve really learned nothing at all.
As I take the pen in hand once again, to to exorcise the demons of regret that haunt my dreams and cause so many a sleepless night, I again understand the futility of what I do. And if I had you close at hand right now, with time enough and wit enough to say the things that I have ached to tell and beg you to forgive me at last, I wonder if I could even speak them at all. The resemblence between the boy you knew and the man that I have become is limited to the name and a few of the physical features; the hair and eye color. But to look into the eyes is to see that I now am everything that you had ever wanted for me, and more. The times that I have wept over the pain I have cause to you and the ones you hold dearest to you can never compare with the tears I caused, and a thousand regrets, piled high with a hundred thousand apologies are no redress to you. So I wish you well, and pray that you have found one who will heal the pain I have caused, and if carrying my memory as a villian can help to ease my crimes, then villian I shall be until the end of life.
He looked up from his spot beneath the lamppost, then he turned up the collar of his overcoat and faded into the night city. He looked back in wonder on the events of the night, and thought about what she might be thinking about as he wandered toward the pub and too much stout. And he mused, muddle-hearted, among the random thoughts that lay around his mind like the pieces of the broken vase. He thought, "Amazing/amusing how it hit the ground so fast," as he rubbed the back of his neck and asked for a black-and-tan. Where would she go? Would she even leave? And if she didn't, would he have to go away? Just who was she/he to turn to, now that they were no longer them, And their lives lay all around, like the broken vase? So now, like something you never wanted, but couldn't stand to lose, it was gone, ugly as it was, but irreplacable just the same. And the pain and the relief fed each other, ashamed to be relieved, relieved to feel the pain. The pieces of his logical heart scattered around his feet and sounded like the remnants of the broken vase. Then he stumbled from the pub in to the darkness, as December's breath accused him through the refuge of his coat. He looked up from his spot beneath the lamppost, then he turned up the collar of his overcoat and faded into the night city.
Note: Between here and the next note are some collected works I have left in various other spots on the internet. They are as recent as last month, and no older than a year.
I often told her that I loved her for her mind, and not her bed. She never bought my lines or pitches "I see right through you," she always said. I told her that I only wanted to see her happy, not just nude. "You're so transparent," she responded. I shot for smooth, she found me crude. More and more shallow I became. My depth grew scant, my come-ons more inane. Repeatedly, without remission I tried to breach her staunch defense. But one day when she saw right through me she meant it in the literal sense. A twist of fate? Some radiation? Perhaps a jesting deity? Whatever might have been the reason Now I could also see through me. Though I was never much to see, My looks now matched my personality. So on that night, anticipating, I waited by her apartment door Hoping that, in my condition, I'd have more fortune than before. I followed her in through the dorway and then I moved a little closer That's precisely when she hit me in the forehead with her toaster. She said, "You're present state makes you deranged. I've always seen right through you. Nothing's changed."
(or A Stout Fellow's Tale)
There once was a handsome Stout fellow dark-featured, of Irish decent. He needed a job the lazy young slob in order to cover his rent. He said to himself, "What Ale's me is the lack of discernible plan I'll quit staring at walls, and make a few calls, and in no time I'll be a rich man. He saw an advert for a Porter to work on the Orient Express he forgot, in his thickness, his bad motion sickness and imposed on the owner's largesse. "Well, I dress better than any Lager." he said to himself, feeling droll. His shoes were shon bright and his hat was cocked right up until the train started to roll. "Oh, goodness! I'm feeling quite shakey," as he reached for the Pilsner at hand. But the clicks and the clacks as they rolled down the tracks was just more than the poor boy could stand. He exits the train feeling Groggy, and another position he'll seek. By now he's found out that the flesh may be Stout, but the spirits are definitely weak.
The shock and horror washed over us like ice water; painful, breath-stealing, and eventually numbing. The feeling returned with time, and with time has faded once more. But there are things we should not forget. There are names we should not forget. Johnny Spann, Matthew Bancroft, Jeanette Winters, Nathan Hays. Some were friends, all were allies. None will return. There are images we should not forget. Children say they still dream of birds that flew from windows. But we know that they were not birds. A man in soldier clothes told us that we deserved to die. But we know that he is no soldier who strikes the innocent and hides away. There are sounds we should not forget. There was a deafening roar. There was a horrified collective gasp. There were cries of pain. There was weeping. And yet, of tragic fire strength is forged, and from the depths of cowardice we achieve the heights of courage. Yes, there are things we should not forget. There are names we should not forget. Fred Hodges, David Webster, Jan Demczur, Wilfred Amanfu. Common men of uncommon actions, they saved others and themselves. There are images we should not forget. Our elders tell of a time when our flag lined the city streets. Before, we imagined. Now, we understand. Three men, covered in dust, raised a flag at a site of distress. But it was no flag of surrender, rather a standard of defiant hope. There are sounds we should not forget. At the seat of government, hundreds put aside petty differences, dropped a lid on the pork barrel, and sang a song. Soon, thousands joined them. Do you remember Patrick Roy? Do you remember Ronald Owens? Do you remember Lakiba Palmer? Do you remember the U.S.S. Cole? There are things we should not forget, because the sooner we forget, the sooner they will happen again.
Baghdad, 4 October, 2003
Note: This is my attempt to deal with some of the
ambivalence I am dealing with regarding the current
occupation in Iraq. This is not to say that I
disagree with the action taken there. But it is of
some value to look at the other point of view.
Rockets flew above my head And thunder followed on their heels. Fear has long ago been replaced by Acceptance of what is, and is to come. “If only,” I thought, as the night closed in, A warm, dark blanket of night falling On my shoulders, calling me to rest. “If only those fellows had CNN, Or someone to tell them we have already won.” But, in a quiet moment, In the still of the night, A question comes to mind. How would I feel if it were my land And I were the one who had lived through the lies? How would I feel, with the tanks on my streets And my churches in ruins in front of my eyes?
Night resolves to morning,
and the thermonuclear blossom
brings another day,
full of the promises
of a brighter future.
But I have heard promises in abundance
Of food, and of safety,
And of better lives for my sons.
A man with many guns once said
he had the better way.
Then a man with 2 sons, with many guns
imposed on us his way.
Now many men with guns in hands
have claimed they know the way
What is the way?
Who knows the way?
Is there a way?
For many months they have been here
And will stay for many more.
They have taken
The splendid palaces
And the vineyards have gone to waste.
While in my city
My father’s land
I cannot roam as I please.
Men with rifles,
Men with tanks
Ask for my papers daily.
They offer work, and offer pay
But the work is to fix
That which they destroyed.
They offer water
Which we had before they arrived.
And what is this Democracy?
What is this Federalism?
I am a man, and a simple man.
All whom I know are simple men.
Who are we to choose
How our nation will be led?
There will come a day when I must choose.
Already I have been asked.
I have delayed for now, but soon enough
My sons will be asked as well.
Where will my allegiance stand?
Whom will I believe?
For it has been so long
Since I have believed
Day follows night, and night follows day. Man builds one home, and destroys another, And each man, Sure in his heart that he abides In the Shadow of the Almighty Continues his Jihad/Crusade. There is nothing new Under the sun.
Fair of Face
Note: I found myself challenged to write today. The topic was the title of the poem below. It took me every bit of ten minutes, and it shows.
However, I see no reason to hide it from you, as many of you have been kind enough to urge me to write again.
Consider this my attempt to get "back in the saddle."
It has been said, and reasonably so, that all women are beautiful. And yet I would disagree. There are some women who are attractive there are other women that are "hot", but few are beautiful to me. Attractive woman inspire smiles. They invite conversation, and bring light to the eyes of men. Other women inspire lust. They invite fantasies that a man could be eighteen again. Beautiful women inspire poetry they invite the muse to come and dance in one's mind. For you, I could write such verse That would make Shakespeare blush That he ever thought to pile line upon line.
One kiss is all my heart would ask, as into the night I find myself cast.
The moon, flushed with impassioned light, looks down upon we two,
encouraging the meeting of two hearts, two souls, two mouths, two lives.
“If only,” cries my heart, “if only we two could fly from here
intertwined in the arms of the night,
its darkness shielding us from the inquisitive world.”
“If only,” my heart cries, “if only the warmth of we two, enmeshed,
could shield us from the cold stare of the sun.
I would be all things to you, as you are the very air,
the very blood, the very life within me.
I would be the wings upon which you would soar,
The sea through you would sway and dance
to the passionate rhythm of time and tide.
But this may never be.
One kiss, and then farewell.
If You Were A Rose
Note: I was walking back from dinner and the title to this came to me.
I sat down and put it together for my wife, wonderful and patient woman that she is.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be married to an anonymous poet?
If he were any good, there would be all that frustration that
he won't share his writing with the world, and that he hides his face like a child.
If, however, he was a bad, cheesy, amateur poet, you would have to suffer through verse like this below in silence.
She is a woman of great strength, indeed.
If You Were A Rose If you were a rose, I’d like to be the sky I’d send you down my softest rain, like an angel’s lullaby. I’d make the finest sunsets, to match your crimson hue, And keep you in the moonlight while you sleep the whole night through. If you were the ocean, I’d like to be the sand. I would always meet you when your waves ran to the land. Everywhere you wandered, I’d be everywhere you turned. From the shores down to the depths, so you would never be concerned. But you, you are a woman, and I am just a man. I cannot cause the sun to shine, or support you like the sand. But with all the strength within me, I will do what I can do. My heart is all I have to give, but I give it now to you.
Note: This is unapologetically mushy.
About 1 am local, I was remembering a rather important day. As I recalled it, I thought I should write it
down somewhere so I could show the poetlings one day that how the old man felt on that day. And one day,
when they have that day themselves, they will look at this and think, "Dad really did understand.
Or that I'm a mushy old nutcase.
I remember that day. How could I not? For all my bluster and bravado, I was reduced to a nervous wreck, As I, in my best suit and tie, Stood before our collected families In preparation for the moment Of your arrival. Clammy palms, cracking voice Butterflies transformed into Heavyweight boxers In the pit of my stomache, Time has slowed to a crawl As I wait upon the moment Of your arrival. The Minister is trying to calm my nerves, Casually chatting on the weather, Or the attendees, or the pack Of rabid weasels tearing up My car outside. It matters not. I do not hear him, though I nod As I pray fervently for the moment Of your arrival. The music begins. Everyone is still. All eyes are fixed. You arrive. Beautiful. I recover from the moment To realize that I, above all mortals Am Chosen for you. And you, a vision, A cloud descended A seraph among us Are to be joined to me. The Minister begins with an opening prayer. “Bless these, oh Lord, whom You shall join, that time nor evil should sunder.” There was more, much more, And I trust that the Almighty Understood my attention Being elsewhere at the time. All at once, I am presented, In solemnity, and candor, And all good intent With the Question of the Moment. “Do you?” In all the world And all its history Never was there a question With so simple an answer. “I do.” Equally sudden, my fate is laid At the feet of the Seraph, The cloud descended. “Do you?” In all the world And all its history Never was a man so thrilled At such a simple answer. “I do”. Then, with a ring, a symbol of eternity, From whence our spirits were conjoined I vow, to you, before these assembled With all my heart With all my strength With all my life and breath That you I shall cherish And honor And value Above all others Eternal Amen.
Note: Here's another that was inspired by the family.
There are times when the self-esteem droops a bit and my family, God bless them, can generally tell
when I am down, so they do their best to re-affirm me. At the crossroads of their
high opinion and my low self-evaluation I wrote this.
I wish, for one day, That I could be the man That others think I am. Bravely facing adversity Strong and Stoic, like a tree Heroic, and with Dignity. That’s what I would be. I wish, for one day, That I could be the man My children think I am. All the answers close at hand Nothing beyond my command I would truly be “The Man”! That’s who I would be. I wish, for one day, That I could be the man That my wife says I am. Always caring, always kind, The good of others on my mind, The best in everyone I’d find. That’s how I would be. I wish, for one day I didn’t have to be The man I think I am. Jealous, selfish, full of pride Quick to anger, often snide A constant thorn in people’s sides That’s how I see me. In my most lucid moments, though, I understand my plight. At any given moment, any one of us is right. Any one of these is me, For life is like a tapestry Or a gem in which we see facets of identity
The Same Sky
Note: This poem was inspired by the first victory of the Iraqi Football team at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. More specifically, I was watching the celebratory fire afterward, which lit the sky for a good hour that evening.
I looked to the sky last night. I saw the stars, and they saw me. And yet they took no note Of my observance. The moon paid no attention As she meandered through The astronomical assembly, Like a successful woman who, With an air of purposeful isolation, Wanders through her class reunion With a casual elegance that speaks Not so much of distain As of indifference. I thought to take some comfort In the cliché that tells us that we, In spite of the distance and the time And the events that separate us, We are, indeed, beneath the same, If indifferent, sky. And just as that comfort began to move From my medulla into the more intimate Portions of the mind, where emotion And memory play against each other At endless hands of whist, The sky, in an instant, Lost it’s veneer of impassivity as tracer lit the sky, like a razor slash across the once-passive face of the heavens. Over, and again, and more frequent With each passing moment The munitions rose above Like rivulets of blood, Defying gravity To escape the Earth. And a suddenly as the thought of peace Came to my mind, It reversed itself. No, we are not beneath The same sky. And at that, I smile.
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