Interval: A Cento

I was asking myself:
will I be like this? How will I manage?

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table,
A beggar shivering in silhouette,
with a splash of vinegar:
stoic, bitter,
strangely sweet.

It never stops still for a moment, so
I try to make it internal, and every wave is charmed.

How better to drift toward another world
but with leaves falling. The leaves, a modulation
of the accumulated darkness in which
two hundred million stars have wink and glimmer needles.
Soundless, their gaps in the dark
bless the traveler and the hearth he travels to.

All the blessings
for squash, apples, carrots, and potatoes,
the milk, the wine, the honey that night pours out.

The boy who lives inside me still won’t go away.
There was a gap in things and here we are.

**********************
This cento contains lines from the following poets: Andrew Motion, Langston Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Margaret Atwood, Donald Hall, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rosemary Willey, Phillippe Delaveau, Luke Davies, Todd Davis, John Taggart, Bruce Weigl, Ron Padgett, Wendy Videlock, Howard Moss, John Hollander, Dave Lucas.

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Layering

First, lay down a crumble of moments in a dish,
childhood memories and first visions evoked –
if you have them – mix them with a butter
sauce of retention.

Smear a layer of simple exuberance – whisked and sweet
over the base. Linger if you must, smoothing and spreading
a zestful meringue until it glistens reflected light.

Next will come chunks of a weightier kind.
Dropped upon the dish,
they will indent the surface.
They will disrupt your coated enthusiasm
with texture, and by themselves, will be unfulfilling.
Do not allow them to cover in total,
but position them throughout – they will later add contour
and context to your beginnings.

Prepare a lime gelatin containing your favorite morsels
of triumph (and defeat)-
One cannot come without the other-
Spoon it over the patina of your past until covered.
Cool and let it set for a time- until solid.

When removed and sliced, savor the different
complexions – the marrow and the substance in between
and within the continuous and smooth.

Add layers.

heaven

Someday, I’ll walk in the valley
and see the high hills that surround me
thinking that day is the one of nadir –
that my dreams and zeniths are all on paper.

One day, I will pause by a stream
to watch the fish dart, to wish as they teem,
believing that now is the moment of truth –
that now is the difference ‘tween rippled and smooth.

Nowadays, I seek out a dale
with hills along side, and a brook to avail-
hoping this heaven will open the souls
of all who exist, and persist as a whole.

Thoughts, and Prayers

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the use of the phrase “thoughts and prayers,” and its use after events of loss and suffering.  We all tend to say it.  Your best friend’s Grandmother passes away, and your response is “my thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of loss.”

What does this phrase mean?  Thoughts and prayers of what, exactly.

In this case, I think these are thoughts of sympathy (or empathy) and prayers of comfort directed towards those who have lost someone.  The thoughts are just to let the person know that you have them on your mind. It seems kind, and harmless, but I believe that this is most meaningful when you know them, or have shared the relationship that they just lost.  Prayers of comfort (in our society, from my perspective) stem from the Judeo-Christian belief in an all-powerful God, one who can (for lack of a better word) gather you up and give you a big spiritual hug.  I believe this expression is less effective (for the person who experienced the loss) when you don’t really know them, or you sense that the conveyance of sympathy is insincere.  The issue of late, where our nation’s leaders express their sympathies (time and again) over a repetitious tragedy – that could have been avoided – is an example of this.  Their approach to this expression of sympathy weakens the concept of prayer.  Why? Prayers are supposed to be powerful, they are intended to reach us, change us, and help us.

Let’s talk about prayers a bit.  There are different kinds of prayers:   thanks, confession, hope, comfort, deliverance – to categorize a few.  All prayers are goal oriented.  They are intentional- to get us to believe, to convict our minds of something, to help out someone, to give ourselves clarity, etc.  They are meant to spur us to action.  The strength of our humanity is in our ability to act, in compassion, of one mind.  I think prayer facilitates this.

But the issue is, you must act.  Prayer without action at some point, is empty.  The very act of prayer should indicate that you are considering a problem that needs a solution. Our lawmakers offering their prayers to those who have lost loved ones in a senseless mass killing is an empty platitude without some intention to make their suffering worth the cost.

Churches should know the power of collective and intentional prayer. It is the “superpower” of churches (I know it sounds silly, but in today’s language – this is it). Yet, I believe, in these times the focus has been misguided.  Too many are concerned with their belief that “we” have pushed God out of society and they pray for supernatural intervention.  First of all, the idea that an all-powerful, ever-present God could be pushed out is – ludicrous.  Did you ever think that God may have taught us about prayer so that we could discern and then act with conviction to make changes that impact each of our lives, to meet people where they are, to comfort them out of love, or to right wrongs? Perhaps, that it is a lesson to learn to be more like him.

This is complex, but not hard.  Lawmakers should take up and pass better legislation that reduces assault weapon availability and improves mental health assistance. It is heartless and cowardly to not do so.  Those who pray for supernatural intervention should pray themselves for discernment about the importance of lawmakers who can act in the best interests of all humanity, collectively and individually.  They could also pray for strength to act out of love – not morality, not condemnation, not prejudice, not to point out faults, and most of all – to not be afraid to admit they are wrong.

And then do it.

 

Soundly

An artless man dreams no dream,

writes no poem,  cannot scheme.

He sees no beauty in those that wish

for better efforts netting fish –

Building hopes – not a gist.

Money talks – lime and twist.

A feckless man walks no walk,

Only chitters on in talk.

Shares no elegance in wit

spewing anger, bile and spit.

Polished words – not a skill.

Poisoned venom – strapped and shrill.

A useless man will he become?

Continued uninspiring thrum –

Whilst the beauty grows in spite

filling in the space and fright.

Magic overtakes the ill.

Speak it soundly, you know the drill.

 

 

 

Veritas

This poem was born of a phrase,
its stem and budding promise
a point, the origin of which
is unknown.
There was growth,
with cooing and a wriggle of cadence.

It crawled and I was proud.

With careful diagramming,
bone to bone, its frame was
constructed – evolved to stand
and as a laggard on legs, walked
from the mirage of composition
to live.

It left behind the chaos
of structure, the wild haikus
and couplets in the dark,
keeping grasp of its intent,
as language that now endures.

Shouting and singing its veritas
to anyone who passes the moment
and lingers.

And when the time for its jaunt
is at an end, it will sit for awhile
and crumble in upon itself, leaving
the predicating letters – its a’s
and u’s – to seed the next generation
from the soil.
 

Walkways

The hollow sound of steps on concrete
as I move through quiet halls,
walking with a mood of purpose,
striding forward without pall.

Thinking of the crunch of leaves
in autumns’ past on wooded malls,
Shuffled red and brown debris
whispering with their ruffled brawl.

Memories of a trail in snow
with silence mid footfall,
or sloshing on the coastal sand
the tides erasing tread and scrawl.

The running gait on playground fields
and rhythmic marching bands recalled
echoing their pace and chorus
clapping, steps from those enthralled.

All this sound and vision walking
as I move through vacant halls,
listening at the sound of knocking
of my own steps, from wall to wall.