As part of my spiritual practice, I write a daily poem about things that I’m mulling over, or which have touched me. They are always nine lines — except for the occasional longer poems, when I have the inspiration — with each line typically comprised of nine syllables. (This, too, can vary but typically doesn’t.)
Here’s a selection of my musings over the past week.
North and South
We should have left one another then.
You wanted to own people, although
you cannot admit that now and turn
your eyes away with a hot curse when
I bring it up. I was fine with
dirt and factories and spinning mills
and all matter of bullshit as long
as we weren’t putting people in chains.
Long years and still the argument persists.
After the coup
In the days after the coup, the sky
shone its usual hue of eggshell blue,
above streets with unaccustomed silence.
We smile thinly and make our purchases,
wondering beneath our masks: Was it you?
The banners supporting the insurgent
no longer flutter, and the powerful
seal their lips shut when we point to their theft.
And everyone wonders: Was it you, friend?
Maybe we will sleep again without
half an ear awake for the sound of boots,
the knock – curt, professional – on the door.
We cannot trust our eyes to close and then
the world assemble itself into its
usual shapes when they drift open.
The neighbor that held the door wields a knife.
Their compliments on your casserole sift –
writing on the sand, washed away by hate
When the wind and cold steal the rags
from the trees, their branches shiver
to hide their nakedness, their long limbs –
and revealed are the nests, twig-twined orbs
in every crotch and crevasse, great
and small with the remnants of eggshells
and shed feathers an shit. Winter
reveals the armature of spring,
chaos and death the seed of the song.
Notes during wartime
First remember who you were. Remember
all the things you said you wouldn’t do.
Remember who you were before you did them.
Remember the things you said when speech
winged as free and far as chimney swifts.
Remember all the facts you learned from books
and stern teachers, the ones who challenged you.
But first, remember who you were – and are.
This is of the utmost importance.
Before the storm
The skies are bluest before the storm
the day most beautiful before the turn
to darkness and winter and freezing cold.
Like a Victorian maiden with her eyes
luminous, her complexion rosy
as consumption settles wanly in –
Red skies at morning, sailor take warning:
How magnificent the cresting swell,
the glass cave as it envelopes you!