In my mind, writing for publication is a sacred trust. To approach it as anything less would be a form of abuse. But I think the same can be said of any walk of life, any kind of work. Don’t you? Because, by each and every act, we publish ourselves.
Letter to Myself
Yours are meager words
circling the drain
while the world outside rages on.
No books exploding like hijacked trains,
no poems scrawled on brick walls
where innocents were shot
begging for bread, no leaflets burning,
no mock trials before waiting graves.
Instead, you lead a private revolution.
No one knows your trips
to the mail box and garbage can
are fraught with abstract peril.
When you stand blinking in the sun,
your neighbors see a bewildered survivor
of an inconsequential train wreck,
an arbitrary question unanswerable
in terms of cash.
Still, you soldier on.
You pick your way through the rubble.
Each day, you carry away
the wounded and bury
the lucky dead.
No one asks their number.
Their names are left unsaid.
But their eyes shine
like a thousand mirrors:
remember, they say, do not us deny.
Soft light rattles the milkweed
and the thistle. A ladybug walks by,
seductive beneath her parasol.
Truth flees angry wheels.
The street is full of snails.
Inside, you find history asleep
on your table, and ability stuck
to the bottom of your shoe.
The radio, unplugged years ago,
sputters a forgotten war-time tune.
You begin again where the music ends,
then lose yourself in the middle.
You hear America singing,
and the mountains of Peru.
You bathe in a China waterfall,
sleep in a freight car,
rent a villa in Spain,
worship a plate of fresh-picked greens.
In a sidewalk café,
Hemingway pours more wine,
blames you for his problems.
While you dream of southern summers,
he makes you pay the bill.
In writing on your napkin,
the waiter numbly declares:
the generation lost
has just been found again.
It has been ages since the battle,
but your mind still rages on.
You see it on a bright white screen,
but harmony is fickle.
The aged pontiff
can no longer taste his food.
The president’s tuxedo has expired.
The savior is bored,
seeks better working hours.
It is not what you remember,
and never what you think.
It is far better and so much less,
a moment that is as fleeting
as anything is sure.
Songs and Letters, April 9, 2005
[ 175 ]
Categories: Songs and Letters