Tuesday, October 29, 2013



How strange to recall childhood as an aging man
as if nothing had changed for the last sixty years
you’re watching yourself as a young boy
from a point of awareness somewhere in the air
above him like someone he couldn’t have foreseen becoming,
looking back upon him with great tenderness
that I’m what I made of his future as he
tries to reverse the bike chain he caught
his pant cuff in, and I can do nothing to help him
at this remove, except love him as someone should have then
when these strange tears didn’t taste so much of time.

Who could have guessed it would take all these years
to fill the absence in his heart up by becoming
the intimate familiar of the solitude of a child
who could befriend anything that was as lost and wild
and wounded as he was and yet could dream
of doing great things up late in his room at night
to prove he was at least as loveable as any achievement.
He was off to fight a holy war of one with himself
like a single infidel against the whole of Christendom
that I’m the living ruin of because sometimes it’s wiser
to be defeated than it is to prevail supreme
against your own dream of being worthy of love.

Time ripples in the growth rings of a tree
echoing the song of a well-seasoned nightbird
in the heartwood of a shedding maple
that remembers all the lyrics of longing and lament
it sings to itself at times like an arrow, a burnt guitar
struck by lightning, or one of the strong rafters
that uphold the soul like the keel of a lifeboat overturned
on the great night sea of a death in life
it drowned in more than once like moonset
among the corals that tore the bottom of its hull.

And how many cold nights did it take
before the syrups began to run sweetly in spring
and the new leaves forget the history of their roots
as I tried to abandon the child that I was
by the side of a road that led him away from me
because I thought one of us had to go homeless
in order to survive the firestorms of his outraged innocence
and the unaccusing guilt of mine as I grew up
letting him down in ways that only he can imagine
as I spread from one burning building to the next
like a new religion that wasn’t looking for converts?
But if you were to ask me now, I’d say it’s funny
how he turned out to be the Buddha sitting at the base
of the Bodhi tree of my spine, and on a good day,
at my best, before the fall, I’m Lucifer leading
the sun up at dawn like a child guiding a blind prophet
by the hand long before the morning star appeared
like Venus to those who were seeking enlightenment
without me or themselves to witness what neither of us
had attained like the key to the mystery of a universe
that had no locks on it to begin with to shut anybody out
or keep anybody in. The man in me doesn’t blame the child
for existing the way I do now trying belatedly
to embrace his rejection as a way of life
I can make up for by sharing this wounded solitude with him
like an injured animal he can see himself in
as a potential friend he could identify with
as if what had happened to me had once happened to him
and we could both approach each other with compassion.


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