What are words
from the mouth
of the ancient ones.
I tell you
these are such words.
You may accept
or reject them
as you will.
Better still, tear
this page from its binding
and cast it
to the four winds.
Let it be carried
off in ten directions.
A reflection on case 91 of the Iron Flute Koans
When I was a child, my mother
repeatedly told me that I must
learn something new each day.
I knew better than to point out
that it was absurd to call
for novel behavior by repetition.
So I took the path of least resistance
and each day grabbed a random
volume of the World Book Encyclopedia,
opened to any page and read
the first entry on that page, committing
it, or its salient facts, to memory.
There is so much in life with which
I still struggle, seemingly basic tasks
I never took the time to master,
too busy with my head in books,
but I do know that the acts of Punisa
Racic that June, 1928 day killing two
led King Alexander, six months later,
to ban all political parties, assume power
and rename the country Yugoslavia.
There is one thing a poet hates
more than a page
that refuses to be filled –
it is coming across words
or are sworn
I had a pen
I truly loved
until it announced
early one morning
it was taking
of iambic celibacy.
Poems once pregnant
As I turned
from Erato’s altar
she called after me,
is out of ink.”
Writing is an art form
that very many never see
but the unseeing of the work
is what elevates it to art.
This is what you often hear
from the unpublished, or even
from the denizens of small
press purgatory, the one
the Vatican will never acknowledge,
for the poets corner of heaven
is so deeply hidden away.
The words on the page
know better, they see the beauty
as they tumble from the pen,
and need no confirmation.
He says he has discovered that the best
way for him to write is to ignore the pen
totally, to just let it lie on the desk doing nothing.
It should be in close proximity to paper,
for pens need that to complete their existence
or at least to give them purpose to go on.
He also needs to avoid the siren’s call
the emanates from the keyboard
far too frequently for his taste.
No one is willing to believe him, “Just write,”
they say, but he knows that words
are merely that, and meaningless without
the context only a reader can provide,
even if that reader is he, and so he stares
at the pen and page and in time
he becomes aware that the pen is ready
and then, and only then, does he allow it
to move his hand across the paper.
A poet is a child who
on seeing a blank page
must fill it with dreams
hears the song of the nightingale
in the din of passing traffic
comforts the lonely mother recalling
the pain of a thousand births
sees in each passing cloud
the tears of a generation
feels the heat of the sun
amidst the winter’s blizzard
carries the bones of young men
from the fields on which they fell
cries with the child
hobbling on war shattered legs
curses the generals whose souls
have been cast off before battle
cannot forget, trading
nightmares for dreams.
The stone defies the flame,
drawing it in
until it is licked
by the snow of winter
The page defies the words,
denying them purchase,
they are flat
to see them
The barren earth
defies the king
who orders it fertile
as sand swirls
tearing at its face
for it is new
in this moment
and in the next
and so on
on a borderless