Tag Archives: Poetry

I Wonder

I wonder how much of what’s on paper is real. I wonder how much of poetry comes from life lived.


A few months ago, I started reading a book of poetry* aloud. I’ve carried it around town and read under the tree, in the park, by the fountain. I carry a blue pen with me, slight weight, fine black ink, the kind of pen that was made to tell stories rather than sign papers, I like to think. The kind of pen that’s meant to be enjoyed rather than kept in a box on a desk for special occasions, but also the kind of pen I’d be sad to lose, so I left it at home once, and those pages are easy to find in my journal because they don’t look like the other pages. I haven’t left it at home since.

I carry a blue pen with me and I annotate, underline, fold down page corners, record dates. I read aloud and sometimes I reread, sometimes I stop because the words have become the sound of my voice and I need to go back to the words. I read aloud and sometimes there are people around and sometimes I stop just to take it all in.

There’s something about the words that makes me braver than I am, that reminds me that I am all I have, that assures me that when everything falls apart again, there’s a way to rebuild.


I can still see the look in your eyes I can’t read, hear the chorus that told me what I already knew and didn’t want to know.

Sometimes I wonder if you’re as scared as I am.

And I laugh at myself for wondering because you’re not. You never were. I wonder if that’s how I seem, too, and I wonder if that’s why I can’t read that look in your eyes.

How much of poetry comes from life lived?

Weimar, Germany – March 2022

*River Flow by David Whyte


Schatz

The first person to call me a treasure lied to me.

The second had just met me but somehow saw me.

The third loved me.


It’s a funny thing, love, and you know it,
don’t you, you know it because it makes people do
crazy things
they wouldn’t otherwise do,
or so they say.
But it’s not magic, you know, as much as we might like to
think;
it’s hormones, not magic
neurotransmitters
chemicals
and that makes it even more infuriating because you know exactly,
exactly
how it works and
why
and why it still gets to you is beyond you. But
well, it’s gotten to everyone at sometime or another.

Or not.

And it’s funny because what swells the heart now is not love,
actually,
but a dream of what could be
what isn’t
what might
what isn’t a dream but sometimes a
wish
hope
dare you think –
prayer?

Easier to skip it.
Easier to skip it and move on and
“one way ticket ’round the world”
like you said
because if you don’t want any part of it that’s
fine that’s
fine. That was clear from the start.

It’s a mantra, a meaning, a purpose
and it doesn’t even exist,
not yet, not today, not with you, but it’s a
it’s the
it’s like they asked, “what do you want most?”
and “what are you afraid of?”
and you smiled and hedged and then
answered the second question to answer the first.
They asked the questions and
you knew the answers more deeply than
you’ll ever admit
to anyone but yourself
because you’d be naked without the armour
and you’ve been there before.

A sudden wave of clarity and you’ve slept better since.

A sudden wave of clarity and it’s easier to laugh and to think,
well, at least it happened
at least there was a minute
at least you got lost for a while.

The paper is still there, after all, and it’s a shame,
really, a shame
because that could have been, well, a dream.
They (who?) say that when you know, you know,
but all I’ve ever known is that that’s what they say.
And you?
Because it’s not fair to you either, is it?

The English language really could use more variation on
“you”.

After all you’re no longer –
you’re not –
flip the pages on the calendar –
more pages than you’d thought.
I’m glad I found you.

And you?
You know the neurochemistry and you know
that look and sometimes –
but you can’t go there
won’t go there
and in the end don’t want
to go there because
if you did,
you’d be there already. That’s just
the way you are, you said,
and when you know,
you know.


Schatz is the German word for “treasure” and it’s used as a term of endearment. I like this word very much and I’ve been familiar with it for a long time, though it came as a shock when I encountered it again after many years away. There are certain things we’d simply rather not remember, associations we’d rather not have.

The English language doesn’t tend to use “treasure” in this way. In English, pirates, children, and some playful adults search for buried treasure, but it’s rarely something you’d call somebody. I certainly never have. The fact that I can count three occasions in which this word was used says something about it. Not common. Reason enough to remember.

I have a funny relationship with this word, simply because I have had three very different experiences with it. I would assume that everyone prefers some terms of endearment over others, and that we all have such words that we’d rather not use or rather not hear. Our experiences in friendships, romantic relationships, and long-term partnerships shape how we approach new people and the ways we interact with them. These experiences shape the choices and decisions we make, and what we will or will not accept in others. One thing I have learned about myself is that I know who I am and I am not looking for anyone else to affirm that. In some ways, this makes me much more vulnerable because I’ve already lost what I had to lose, so I am more open than I might otherwise be. In other ways, I can feel the walls I’ve wrapped around myself because I’d really rather not go through such loss again. There’s a constant balance in shades of gray, and if I’m honest, I’d rather not balance. The language of interaction matters, and language is not only words.

I’ve been called a treasure three times.

Perhaps I was a different person each time.

Perhaps all of those versions of myself are somehow contained in this self.

And perhaps, just perhaps, there is another word.

Weimar, Germany – February 2022

Better

Be the better person.
Be the bigger person.

Must we compare?

Is it not enough to be better than I, myself, thought I could be?
Is is not enough to be better in order to
be who I thought I could be.

Want to be.

To be the better person means to look at the other and think,” There is a reason you are doing this. You are insecure, inadequate, selfish, self-righteous, lost, hurt, afraid.”

To be better means to grow internally, to choose me over you.
To be better means to do what is right because it is right
and not because you have put me there.

To be better is to act;
to be better than is to react.

A choice?

Not really.

A statement, always.
To me, a statement.

No one else is listening.