I do not carry a notebook or a pen. If I write it down, what then? Best to leave it be, and let it pass through and over me. And even that is arrogant. As if I will be, a moment hence, what I thought I was, and who I think I am. Yet I write it now — a willful child, a fleeting man — a penance of the penitent, in blindness and in ignorance. As if I am here, and you are with me, listening. As if I am at all, or could ever wish to be. As if the need to say outweighs the need to sing.
When the Need to Sing Outweighs the Need to Say
When the need to sing outweighs the need to say,
When there’s no clear message to bear,
When the secrets are in and settled to dust,
Settled to rain, to footprints that lead away,
And are consigned to pages in my own dead hand,
What better day to dance with demons?
You unborn and you who wait, what new sorrow do you bring?
What triumph to tell? What past gray selves heaped upon the blaze?
Or do you come in emptiness as deep as my own,
And which, by its clever-sweet design, is full?
You want answers. I have none. I have fields and I have sun;
I have graveyards and I have clouds; but these are yours as well.
Except by the light of souls, I see no difference
Between those deemed wise and those called fools.
One holds a torch, the other smiles.
And yet a word from both can save us all.
Ask a child. He will know. Ask the river or ask the road.
Ask a daughter, or a son. Ask the eyes of one you love.
I stand by night and all its glory. But day’s a veil I adore;
And faith, where there is none; glad pilgrims; those who mourn.
Except by the light of souls, I see no difference, none at all,
In the blackness down a well of living water,
Where to fall is everything we need, one upon the other,
And to call out is the speed of silence to open arms.
But no one asks who’s content to know, nor troubles.
In the distance, angels light upon the broken rocks, and furies;
The surf is up. A bell tolls. It’s time to go.
Poems, Slightly Used, August 25, 2010