Fritter in the Bookshop

Just because we’re sentimental about a household object that used to belong to a grandparent, doesn’t mean the dog won’t eat it while left at home alone all day.  To him, a coaster with the Notre-Dame cathedral painted on it is – while not the preferred afternoon snack – quite suitable to chew on.

“To think of all the grand plans you once had”, he says, smiling up at me one day as we walked through the park, with an expression indicating that he is at once a wise sage and a mischevious trickster.  “You were trying to be more than you are.” 

He’s right of course.  I am only a wanderer, like the kind you see sketched on a Chinese scroll, small and off to one side.  I am the reader in a chair, in the corner of the bookshop with tea and an apple fritter.

There’s just something about a hot cup of tea and a warm apple fritter, when you’re perched on the shore of the Milky Way, fiddling with the margins that exist only in your mind.

 

 

Winter Light

In whirlwind of winter night,

a heart keeps warm and glowing bright.

Who holds this light, I ask of you?

That traveled on and greater grew,

in amber-white and silver-blue?

I ask of you: who holds this light,

in whirlwind of frosty night,

however dim, however bright.

Who holds this light, nobody knows…

only that it stronger grows.

Yet weak or strong, the smallest flame

can light the darkness just the same.

 

What the Seagull Said

You think you had a bad day? the seagull said.  Try walking a mile on these feet with an injured wing.

While you get to have a sandwich and busy yourself with your life of a million unimportant things, I have to stand in the wind and watch the coastline, listening to the endless silence of my own hunger.  All I know is survival, how to stand guard against death, and capture what small pleasures I can, when I can.

The poets can make their lofty comparisons all day long, but we are not the same.

 

 

Another Day’s Work

We get it, everything dances.

Everything is vast, simple, unfathomable, a transcendent oneness emerging from all pairs of opposites, glimpsed at times through the burning blaze of the spectacle of the human spirit in all of its messy tortured glory.

We get it.  The dust and the stars are remembered, forgotten.  You’ve entered the noun of your choice, ruminated upon it with adjectives, and yes, it is illuminating, clever, insightful, heart-wrenching, life-vivifying.  True for someone, somewhere, for us all.

We can relate to that bit about surgery, about something broken, something mended.  And that middle stanza, especially, helps fulfill our longing to feel connected even as we maintain our illusion of separation.

We’re with you.  We are so, so with you.

Tell us again how everything cycles, ripples, dreams of itself, contains something unexpected, possesses a sudden softness, an impartial hardness.  Tell us again about the immigrants, the patients, lovers, neighbors.  Tell us about the rising smoke, windowpanes, birds, seasons, positioning of planets, democracy.

What is sacred, broken, metamorphosed, alchemized?  Who will remember your great grandfather, grandmother, and the way they were?  What enters us, consumes us, abandons us, eludes us?

We trust that you will give us the answers to all this, and more, and that it will not be tiresome.

We’re prepared to embrace whatever you put before us, as long as it seems relatively extraordinary.  We want to hear about the rain’s toothache, the collective consciousness of house keys.  We want political shouts, spiritual hymns, soulful rants about things that mustn’t be forgotten.

We long to know better the depths of ourselves as audience to your light-shedding, enthralled in the predictability of our own fascination with what is – to you – just another day’s work.

 

 

Changing Stones to Feathers

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that before you can get down to the nitty-gritty business of saving the world, you must tackle yourself, tend to yourself, save yourself, overcome yourself – so you can get out of your own way and just be yourself.  Not the you anyone else wants or needs you to be.  Just the true you – simple, clear, free.

Sometimes you travel back in time, inside, and you search for something lost, and you get caught there.  Part of you wants to stay there, to escape having to confront your fears in the present.

Whatever you hold, carry, store: roll in it, study it, get closer to it, embrace it, absorb it, accept it, celebrate it.  And finally, love it.  If you love it instead of trying to reject it, it’s power over you will be diminished, broken like a spell, and you won’t have to carry it in the same way after that.  The stone will become a feather.

Watch it evaporate, dissipate.  Give it all away to everyone, free.  Soften your grip on the balloon string, open your hand, open your heart.  Watch it float away, up into the sky, and fade into the ether.

Zen

Daylight passes over the garden.

Wild green things grow thick

‘round the entranceway.

Spotted fawns have come by,

their mother not far behind.

Cat sits and watches.

 

 

Starlight Stay

Here’s a link to my poem Starlight Stay, currently appearing in The Adirondack Review.

I wrote this in the middle of the night, up late writing, reading, listening to music, feeling vividly awake and energized.  It’s pretty out of character for me to stay up into the wee hours, though, and I remember longing for the magic dust of sleep, and dreams.