I remember those nights lying there alone,
since there was nothing better to do,
when the words would come to me —
like a doting parent, a monster
from beneath my bed, a guardian angel, a kiss,
They would tell me a story without making a sound,
not read, just known, not understood, but gospel.
And, like when I grew up, these parents left,
or I left them. The monster went poof and
now demons scratch their nails
across my consciousness. I sold my angel for
thirty pieces of fool’s gold and any kisses
left with you.
I am alone again, in a darkness beyond black,
waiting for words that don’t wish to share my bed.
So today I sit in this lonely place,
closing my eyes to the light and praying
for deliverance from the exile of my own making.
And here you are again, carrying this thing
I never appreciated. You don’t have to love me.
Just sit here by my bed until I’m asleep.
I never told you how much I love your voice.
I can’t hear you, but I’ll never stop listening.
I’ve gone and squeezed it dead, I more than fear.
That’s why I sit in my spot and just stare.
Where once images and feelings ran clear,
now only dust. And what’s worse, I don’t care.
I started doing it with you in mind,
your love being all that I ever wished.
I knew this harsh mistress could be unkind,
now I’ve killed her and that fire’s extinguished.
I push and dig, bring up naught but a moan,
the once-blazing fire within me gone cold.
Doggerel in its ash I trace here alone,
like a bell I ring, but not heard, so untolled.
I thought, perhaps, my gift would abide,
a soul-filling thing I’d do ’til I went.
But it seems it’s passed before I died
and all I’ve left is this goodbye unsent.
Like a friend that’s gone, I might grieve this loss.
I know I’ll grieve no longer seeing you.
Maybe this time spent without is just a pause,
my “goodbye,” au revoir ‘stead of adieu.
Around the corner and down a way, just before the main road, two staples hold what’s left of a piece of paper to the power pole. I’d pass it in its fullness on my way to or from when snow still covered everything. It was hard to read then, weather having already faded it, the home printer’s ink running in tears down to the oiled wooden pole. But I knew it was a picture of someone’s white cat that had left the house and not returned. It could have run away, but I doubt it. It could have gone out and run afoul of a winter-hungered coyote, or maybe it got lost in the expanse of white upon which Home happened to be and a car or snowplow had sent it spinning like a snowflake to join the rest of the white on white landscape, maybe until Spring. And now all that’s left of someone’s plaintive posting for their loved one to come back are two staples and a tear of shredded hope. And I thought about the times I have been spun and hunted and lost. When I didn’t know which direction was Home, or if I even wanted to go there. When the dome of sky and the plate of earth are indiscernible from one another, and you look around you for help or escape and you know not which way is the N on the compass, let alone the road to redemption, you just have to find your way within. I once saw a litter of puppies tumbling down a hill toward the busy road upon which I sped by. There’s was nothing I could do for them, surrounded as I was by semis and fulls – the former, trucks and the latter, idiots. I filed that scene as a short loop that runs in my head and heart for thirty years. I have no idea if the little black bundles of bumptiousness hit road level and found a diverting chain link fence there (I pray so) or if a frightening inevitability ended their lives. I just know that they still live within the Home that is me, just as that cat might live in the lives of its family, or whoever saw its snowy invisibleness now indivisibly rendered in the home within them. Whether we know it or not, there will always be a Home for us, grim, gritty or glorious as it may be, in the memories of others, even strangers. Perhaps someday one of them will remember the shred of me when I passed through their day on the way Home. Theirs or mine, the direction doesn’t really matter. We’re Home.
On Day 27 of my Poem-a-Day quest, a “direction” poem. I saw the prompt and could only think of the line from Dylan…Bob, not Thomas. My taste in poets runs toward Minnesota, not Wales. Now, don’t nit-pick if this is a poem or not. It’s a first-draft expression of something within me. Let’s say it’s a prose poem, just for the sake of giving it an address in these last few days of April. A home on the way to May.
Sometimes I wonder why
I live so much life
when you are done
living yours each day.
As you lie in your bed,
resting and recovering
from the energy spent
being you or assuming
the role draped across
your waking shoulders,
I come to life,
in the near-sleep,
staring straight up
into the dark, where
my imagination shines.
While you sleep,
we are performing
in daytime, when
the light blinds
my mind’s eye.
It is my balancing time
between day’s dull reality
and night’s brilliant hope,
no matter how fanciful.
Maybe that’s why it’s called
Poem-a-Day for April 26th, an “evening” poem.
I sit here by myself.
I am solitary. As usual,
Yet I’m speaking to you.
You are sitting there,
alone in your chair.
Yet you are listening to me.
Our hermit lives aren’t wrong,
just separate from the throng,
a decision made in a moment,
over a lifetime.
But by whom?
Them? Him? Her? Us?
Yes. The simple answer.
We are exiles, banished,
because no one wants us,
sometimes not even ourselves.
But even in exile, we are together.
Because I am speaking to You
and you are listening to me
(yes, still Me),
in our solitary confinements
we share with a world,
each other and no one else.
Soon I’ll rise from this island,
as will you from yours,
but you’ll not be alone
because I’m with you now.
And, on this sea of white light,
you’re exiled with me.
Day 25. An “exile” poem.
The further twisting of this twisty tongue,
made of words homegrown and appropriated,
has gone unabated since I was young,
and some I have even procreated.
I guess that’s the price for a language loose
as the American vernacular.
I’m fine with words made up by Dr. Seuss,
but it’s the disuse I find spectacular.
You may not notice how the public speaks
as they hear language on TV mangled.
In texts their lack of care or knowledge peaks.
I gave up on participles dangled.
I’ll still weep for Mother Tongue, totally annoyed,
whenever I hear, “completely destroyed.”
Day 24 of my poem-a-day quest, which I’ve already completely destroyed…uh, I mean…
Oh, and the prompt for today was a poem with a title beginning with “Complete…”
What’s it like to be free,
to no longer feel the weight
of it all upon your shoulders,
not bear so much upon your back
of what you can’t even see?
Is it like a life spent in the sky,
unbound from that which would
bring you down among we
who think we’re un-free?
We are silly sometimes,
wishing we were loosed from
our chains that truss us
to the day-to-day track,
expecting an oncoming train
that may never arrive atop us.
You thought you might be free
when you flew off from your
nest built of broken promises,
and curse-propelled spittle.
But that wasn’t freedom.
That was escape.
And the only escape that makes
us free is the one where
the spirit slips the ties
of You and Them, You and Me,
You and its nest over which
all bid adieu with a quiet “Amen.”
Day 23 of my poem-a-day NaPoWriMo quest. Had to take some time away because all my girls were in one place at once for the holiday. Priorities, y’all.