A Tailwind for Sisyphus

So many wants sit within me,
but inertia and headwinds negate
any attempts, starts or begins, see,
what I once hoped would be my fate.

But Fate she’s a mistress most cold,
one who’d just as soon leave me crying.
Muses turn that way, too, I’m told,
and if I said “Oh, not mine,” I’d be lying.

There’s been more than one pushed my pen,
each gave my heart a stir and a taste.
I thought I loved each, and yet then
they left my poetic heart still chaste.

Now my wants have grown old and dusty,
not lost, but neither kept well oiled.
Such desires are wont to grow rusty,
and without fulfillment they become spoiled.

That’s why these lines squeal so loudly,
like cogged gears spent years without care.
Oh, I cared, but never so proudly
as a man believing in himself might dare.

So my fate remains unrealized still,
and today’s step was just mere mumbling.
While writing this was a Sisyphean uphill,
Sure, two back, but one up without stumbling.

I’m going to keep writing these until something clicks within me. I’m one hundred typewriting monkeys with a not yet totally broken old dream on the other side of this door. And I’ve found the sound of thousands of keys clicking an inspiring song. Who knows? Maybe one of those keys will be the one that unlocks it

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The Struggle Continues

I think of you too much and not enough,
these days and nights since you left me behind.
The “thinking” is something that feels so rough,
while the “not” just makes me feel so unkind.

But kindness is like beauty to a beholder,
and beholders can wear glasses of rose.
My flaw was choosing when to be bolder,
but too often instead of choosing I froze.

That’s how I lost what was a thing unique,
and now I know it’s more than that I’ve wasted.
But this is what comes from being so meek,
not daring to take Prufrock’s peach and taste it.

So today I just sit here and fritter
instead of sharing some time, just you and Joe.
If I’d spoken up would I still be bitter?
Perhaps, but I didn’t, so we’ll never know.

But I like to think this poem you’re reading,
and it’s collecting some transcendent due.
Someday, again we’ll share two souls beating,
since just one heart’s left whole instead of two.

This is such a struggle. The writing, the creating, the imagining, they’ve all gone away it seems. Too long under the pall of my losses. Even though one’s now somewhat mitigated. But I keep trying. If I can’t keep lit that old candle, maybe I can strike a spark and start a wildfire with the dry leavings of what once was so verdant and alive.

To a Muse (Even If You Don’t Exist)

If you were my muse, then I have failed you.
Even if you weren’t, it seems I’ve dropped the ball.
If I was your poet, apology’s due,
since yours was never my story at all.

But you’re ever in my mind, even now,
when I have no thoughts left to inspire me.
There’s no sense in giving you a reason how,
since at last count I think it required three.

See, this so-called poet has lost his way,
the words, like crumbs some damn birds have eaten.
Your inspiration I’d die to display,
but the losses have left me sore beaten.

And so I offer another prayer,
on wings of this imaginary dove.
Please reach out and let me know that you care;
nowhere will you need to use the word “Love.”

Love’s a construct lonely poets devised,
It’s Obsession drives their creative time.
Their made-up stories often go unrevised,
though some I’ll share, even if they’re in rhyme.

That’s the problem and sin today I share,
with any who’ve fancied themselves my muse.
I’ve run bone dry of what my soul laid bare,
and beg your kind indulgence without excuse.

My empty soul no more can work alone,
I need your whispered aid, if you’re listening.
A note would be enough, who needs a phone?
Once more, my writership you’d be christ’ning.

If you don’t care, then that’ll be the end.
Who cares if some hack writer goes unread?
But if you care for the man, once your friend,
please help him tell new tales before he’s dead.

Seriously, I feel I have nothing left within of this reborn writer. And that’s killing me more than you’ll ever know. Losses and depression have blown out the flame that flickered to life from a dying ember ten years ago. And this inability to create life from thin air is killing me. So today I sat down and let something or somebody within nudge me toward creating this rhyming (GAG!) bit of what might be verse. Maybe that’s what I need. Just the impetus to drive forward, sadness, loss and ills be damned.

At the Border of Art and Life

America
Walt Whitman
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

I remember when she almost lived up
to the beatification
old Walt granted her in ’88,
but even he knew the “equal”
in his first line didn’t equal “equal.”
Jim Crow decreed otherwise
and steel from which
the mountain guns used on Americans
at Wounded Knee two years hence
still lay in Mesabi rock.
I wish it was so, Walt’s America,
with its perfectly perfect children,
its forever Freedom, Law and Love.
But I walked Third Street in ’67
and watched that American neighborhood
fade from Walt’s words of greatness,
as others did.

He was right, though, about this place
we’ve been blessed to live.
It is enduring and capable,
even when Mom goes a little insane
falls off her chair or trips
on our scattered and broken toys.
She always manages to stand,
though scarred and maybe gimpy,
to help her children learn again
to pick them up, maybe even
to share with someone else’s kids.
Happy birthday, Walt, I pray
your America and mine meet again
at the border of Art and Life.

Way of the World

Robins chase and spar
on the new-mown grass,
whether for sustenance
or sex doesn’t matter.
It’s just the way of their world.
Meanwhile, a hawk glides
on thermal waves
a-way up in cloud-washed skies.
His reason is more evident,
as his eyes scan
the flat green palette below
for any small moving shadow.
As his own shadow crosses over
the robins’ field of honor,
they scatter with mad flapping
and low trajectory
for the maples and pines,
since you can’t eat
nor procreate once you’ve become
vermillion-breasted tartare
in the belly of a red-tail.
Meanwhile, I sit and
watch it all, wondering
when my old instincts will return.
The ones that feed my soul,
express the intimate
of this Me-You relationship,
and helps me soar above
this pale gray palette
where shadows of stories are
all I have left of the Me
who also once took wing.

A stream-of-consciousness run of what I see outside my window and inside myself these days. The Way of the World is hard, no matter if you’re an air-coursing avian or an empty-headed mammal with a crumbling body and crumpled soul. The latter gained a little altitude during this flight of fancy.

Oh, I’ve Missed You

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,
you.

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.

The Last Word

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.