Rungs

It’s hard to be sure

if you’re climbing.

You know,

really going somewhere.

As opposed to

just milling about

as if you were

at a cocktail party.

Who can say

in what direction

you’re actually moving?

Could be sideways,

or some off-the-charts

geometric angle.

Perhaps there are

no directions at all,

and we’re just taught

that an absence of direction

would be impossible.

Or maybe

you’re hanging on

for dear life

to the same slippery place

you grabbed hold of,

when you lost your footing –

and almost fell –

so long ago.

One Road

Once you have traveled in the four directions and along the main thoroughfare, and spent a great deal of time on the back roads, putting one foot in front of the other until you reach a measure of satisfaction, then you might find a clearer vision of what you’ve been searching for, of why you set out in the first place so long ago.

From this high place you can look beyond. You can look far and wide, and see how your own road is intertwined with all the others. It is not separate, yet it is yours and yours alone. The One Road, the sequence of your choices, the order of footsteps that led to this.

At last, at last. One road, at last.

Today We Leave The City

Pigeons pecking at the curb, ivy scrambling up the wall.  Architecture of the bag lady sipping black coffee from a paper cup in the bus station.

The horizon blushes, rubs rouge on its cheeks.  We move past the graffiti, the dumpsters, we move through the oil, ash, brick, concrete, steel, glass, gravity, recollection, sweat, urine.  Circle-moving every time, every time circle-moving in our own footsteps, wallets, alarm clocks, heads.

Soup-ah, soup-ah, the Bosnian man says forcefully.  You eat, stay strong, no sick.  Soup-ah, soup-ah, you eat.

Fire and water are in us, scorching, cooling.  Ascending the round red brick tower it comes to mind, up the winding stair above the dead sticky air – up, up! where a breeze pulls through, high above the gay men with quick pulses in the bushes, where the rough edges of our thoughts are polished again, where we can see outside the circles in which we move, where we are for a moment transformed into sell-swords, sentinels, keepers of the red dawn, before descending again into age, oil, rouge, architecture.

Today we leave the city, leave it to steam beneath ginger-root rain.  The garbage, needles, parks, people, cafes and lights we leave to someone else.

We leave the corporations and the non-profits, the park benches and office cubicles, the steel cranes and culture, the breakfast sandwiches and nightclubs, the somebodies and the nobodies, the squealing tires and horns and gunshots, the sirens and cigarettes, the broken and the unbreakable, the low-hanging boughs of a half-million lives swaying forward and backward in the wind of the carnival storm.

It will continue as if we were never here.  People will drag themselves along, glide, float, swear they’re being aided by unseen hands, long with all their verve for exotic lands.

A union of chance and decision brought us to the city, and now sweeps us back out, wayward, to another sphere.  Into the midst of magnetic silence, we push on.

 

Ladders

It’s hard to be sure

if you’re climbing.

You know,

really going somewhere.

Or are you just milling about

as if you were

at a cocktail party.

Who can say

in what direction

you’re really moving?

Could be sideways,

or some off-the-charts

geometric angle.

Perhaps there are

no directions at all,

it just appears there are.

Or maybe you’re hanging

on for dear life

to the same rung

you grabbed hold of

when you slipped

and almost fell

so long ago.

Safe Harbor

Down on my knees cutting kindling in the cold still air, I don’t just think I’m the luckiest man who ever passed this way – I know I am.

It doesn’t matter where, or when, you live.  It only matters that your heart stays open, that your heart can be your home, so that regardless of external conditions, you have a safe harbor at the other side of the passing storm.  You have a place to return to, a place that is yours and yours alone.  A place you can carry with you wherever you roam, as you walk, run, marvel and weep through the wide wild world.

It doesn’t matter what colors the painter chose for the picture.  It’s how you see them.

Privileged

My eyes are always pulling me into the visible, constantly bringing me back to the exterior. And there are these lines drawn in my mind, lines that divide, names that label. There are clocks and calendars and maps and guidelines and rules and laws, all trying to tell me where I am, when I am, what I am, who I am, what is right, what is wrong. I didn’t put them there, the world I’m a part of put them there.

So it is no surprise that as I lay there with eyes closed, perfectly still, in absolute silence, it came to me: everything is a privilege. And many of the things that appear to be a burden, or problem, are just as much a privilege as anything else.

It would be my privilege to witness this pain, this fear, this worry that has come to me, and then to not be spun out of control by it, to watch myself be flexible with it, see myself move beyond it. As if it were a rock and I was a watery current, flowing forward with gentle insistence.

I am glad to remember the invisible, to be persistent in my acknowledgement of the interior, because what is real is so much more than what our eyes can see.

 

Let Me Not Wait

Let me tell you now

how much I will miss you.

Let me not spend another moment

alive on this earth with words unspoken.

Let me not wait until you are gone, as I’ve waited with so many now lost, and narrowed my eyes as withered chances blew past my flushed cheeks, lifted by a sudden wind, leaves in a wheelbarrow, carried back to the place where only a moment before, I gathered them.

As if I were trying to perform a task far too large for me,

something to test the bounds

of my mortal endurance.