On Reading Poetry

How many poems are in the world?
One, two, many.
How many of them mean anything?
One, two, none;
they all mean everything.
We exhale, expire,
then inhale, inspire.
We die our death, distant, dark,
then work our words, wistful, wise,
and leave behind a set of letters,
structured, sound and certain,
to proclaim to the heavens —
if only through one set of eyes,
one attentive mind —
all of everything that was, is
and ever more could(n’t) be.
The poet is not the rarefied man,
the phantom distant in a crystal tower
constructing his fever dream on paper
hoping not to lose it all to a knock.
No, no, the poet is always at hand,
always behind every breath
(in and out, in and out)
living in every living spirit;
it is not wretchedness that hides the poet
but bounty, hoardings of every passing thing
and the surety that nothing could
go wrong. But it shall, always.
We see, then, the poet strike out,
throwing another poem onto page,
air, canvas, heart
and maybe, just maybe,
if we listen with eyes wide open
it will be for us and tell us

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The possibilities are, as they say, endless.
We can fight, we can talk, we can live, we can die.
Here, now, this chair restrains only a few paths.
Books or bed or booze or
are all possibilities, pathways, parchways,
and we do not know where they lead.
If we dare, we can do something,
and we must dare, for nothing is
—even more so in the end—
that will change things as much as anything.
What do we dare, when and where?
How much does it matter,
beyond the wise, beyond the tiny
certainties that we can safely grasp?
Every possibility could end in joy
or wretched, staining, misery,
tearing apart what so carefully
was twined together, strand by strand,
folded palms left from a procession,
bent and tortured into torture itself.
And like every chance it ends,
poorly, wonderfully, violently,
we know not until we reach that road,
rounding its way outside the city
and up, up, up the ancient hill,
until upon the dust left behind from dust
the way reaches its climax,
that final meeting of every possibility.
Every path leads to death, even death
that does not end, little dyings
that free us from allegiance
to one possibility
or another.They are endless
but we are not and the ends
are better than an infinite possibilities.

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Land without shadows, turned always to the sun;
the light falls on full fields, rich grass , lively shores,
but we find it insufficient, uninteresting, expandable.
The isle is granted a new name, after the coney
that thrive upon the verdant ground, rich and lively,
free in brush and briars to find the way to survive.
But while the light continues to fall along the shore
the grass has turned from wealth to desolation,
from fields to vast strips of wood and steel.
The wild coney is gone, no place left for it;
instead we find cyclones and thunderbolts shaking,
rattling earth and sky and never satisfied.
Have we tamed the wild, made it our tool,
or have we slain it, laid waste to all the coneys
and proclaimed the world for fat, grease, and cotton candy?
Land without shadows, turned always to the sun,
land without land, turned always to the fun;
and the coney suffers, fades, and is thrown away.

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On My Ordination Day

I had forgotten this day,
or rather, that this was the day,
my ordination day.
The crypt is full of friends,
families, even strangers,
priests and deacons,
at least one bishop, maybe more;
festivities are waiting
across the street, delights
hard to number but easy to swallow.
The Heir shall come and lay
upon heads his hands,
calling down the Paraclete
forever changing destiny;
to serve and not to be
served, bearing upon heads
the weight of the gospel,
the proclamation and the message,
and held forth in hands
the pressure of the chalice,
bearing the weight of the world.
Today is my ordination day
and I am not there.
To mind are a thousand reasons
to be present at the altar,
yet only one that called me away,
a tingling, small voice
that only speaks in silence
and even then is quiet.
The years have not made clearer the call
save that it remains what it was
which is to be elsewhere, elsewise.
The heart of the mystery remains
mysterious, other, distant, present;
only the encounter has taken me away,
laid low my present for the sake
of what has not yet come to pass.
For two years I have not advanced
so clearly as those in the crypt,
my firm and sure plans muddled
in wind and rain and passing days;
there is no book, no chalice, no stole,
no altar, no hands, no kiss;
I wait and cannot wait,
for today is my ordination day
and I am not there.

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They Say the Most Important Thing

They say the most important thing
Is to forgive
But they do not say
How to do that.
You think they are
Three simple words
I forgive you.
Four syllables, one long
Three short.
Yet how do these words work?
If you mean them,
You are done.
If you do not,
How do you come to it?
You can repeat a thousand times
I forgive you
Yet get no further through the words
I forgive you.
They are simple words,
Clear in meaning.
I, the one self,
You, the other self,
Forgive, there’s the rub.
How do I forgive,
What is it,
Where does it go,
How do I forgive you?
I know I cannot hate,
That I must love,
And in loving
I forgive you.
Maybe it is seventy times seven
Because before then
You know not what you say;
Only once you proclaim
I forgive you
Until it loses all meaning
Can you finally say and mean
I forgive you.
How many times must I say
I forgive you
Until I am firm in saying it?
Every time I say
I forgive you
I hope I mean it;
But how can you know,
How can you be sure that
I forgive you?
Go with God and
Go with love;
Maybe soon I will know that
I forgive you?

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Leaving Room

Love is patient.
But what is that?
Is it patient before,
Or only in the fullest flower?
For if before, I must learn
Before I can find what I seek.
To love I am to be patient,
And then to be in love
I shall be in patience.
I hope to love you
But I must wait;
If I rush I am impatient
And am out of love.
You are so distant,
Miles and years between
Yet so close in my hopes,
Inches between us in my heart.
Not inches, but seconds,
The gap between the exhale
And air rushing in.
There is room enough
For the Holy Spirit,
No one else.
How can I wait for years and miles
To collapse into the thin point
Infinitely distant and always present?
Each inhale is pain,
I do not have your exhale.
We are swarmed by breaths.
But, though you lie beyond my eye
There is still room enough
For the Holy Spirit,
And no one else.

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A Hand

A hand, neither open nor closed,
extending from the crystal past.
It seems then time had not deposed
a hand, neither open nor closed,
which once held a cosmos enclosed
but is now just showing, at last,
a hand neither open nor closed,
extending from the crystal past.

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