The Knowledge of Loss
To pronounce its name is to make
it stronger. To make it more clear
is to grant it more power, just as
the attempt to define it further will
inflate its muscles to where it will
surely overpower you and bring
you the odd regret you had indeed
helped bring about your own misery,
all by practicing a proper science,
and this is in the manner of art or any
other religion, where the moment of fulfillment
always brings a disquieting knowledge of loss.
That twilight path where you picked your
way down to the bottom or hollow while
I stayed on the ridge. . . I can always
keenly recall the way you turned to wave
up at me: you were an abandoned soul, a gesture
of hope, as alluring as cleavage by the way
your fingertips spoke of something more
than goodbye. Like the other times we
parted, death has always led blindly to
the next form of copulation, and this
you appeared to have readily understood,
at the moment, there below, between the two
hills, descending, but you couldn't quite get
your hand to speak of such, to me, this time.
You Thought It Was Asleep
The sizing occurs mostly without effort,
as though your body had no idea about
the shape of your soul or its intentions.
You thought it was asleep in childhood,
although that was a time of its most clever
designs, cutting and patching membranes
in your heart so that much later the adult
emerges -- somewhat started, or even
bedazzled -- into the life your soul had meant
for you all along, even as it continues to
fashion the sinews of your present organs, quite content
in seeing how you are still certain you're the master.
Makes One Drink
How oh how came it to be, how the very
blood that gallops through the soul, how
the simple slants that face a fuzzy
world, or how the struggling breaths
who wrap around the lungs of my little spirit;
from where comes the coursing of the words
and how do they spurt in tiny rapids through
the homes in which I live?
I only can tell of what I felt: the quickening
of the flesh who tenderly touches
the soul with soul then surrenders most
of one's self to inner beings more refined . . .
at last it comes, the savage who brings
the cup of blood from the unseen lands,
and makes one drink and drink to finally
swoon into the makings of a better skin.
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), New England poet, is one of the country's greatest poets. Spending nearly all of her life in Amherst, Massachusetts, the last half in relative seclusion, Emily came to be known as eccentric. Besides rare contacts with people outside her immediate family, she wore only white dresses and sometimes referred to herself as a wayward nun. Regarding her poems - only eleven of 1,775 poems were published during her lifetime - she advocated the "propounded word." Her word for herself as a poet was "gnome," and the poems themselves she called, "bulletins from Immortality." Her last communication was written the day before her death, a short letter sent to relatives: "Little cousins, -- Called back. Emily."
Those We Love
There is no way to become smaller,
no way to shrink what has come to
be this soul of mine; it has grown --
through little effort of my own -- to
strain this poor body it inhabits, and
I fear the two of them are no longer
friends. This appears to be the way
of things. Conflict always arises from
the attainment of what we seek; the soul
always scores and blisters all it uses to
expand itself . . . as we score and blister
those we love. There is no way to become
smaller, nor will there ever be a proper way;
and in this end we can see an obscure opening.
Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) once said, during a lecture on the Buddha, "You must achieve joyful participation in the sorrows of the world."
Even Though You Smiled
How does one come to manhood?
I find it here, at the small of your back,
a small indentation that boasts of what
lies on the other side.
Or how does one come to life?
At times I find it in the wind,
your scent weaving like
a tributary of time.
Should I not know how one comes
to the land of the dead? Surely it
was in your eyes, even though you
smiled when I cupped your breasts.
It all swirls together, manhood, life,
your scent, your breasts, around,
around, in the river of time, waiting
to be born you, and seek myself out.
The Perils In Calling
Every time I call to you, I am not met
with silence, but rather a dark void,
as though I petitioned a portion of deep
space devoid of stars.
The ancients had better luck beseeching
you, for they could find arcane answers
in the entrails of domestic animals.
My own intestines recoil from a lack
of participation in this process of prayer,
and I darkly question the purpose
of beings who so keenly desire
prayer but are left so deaf.
The worse in all this is -- even though I
struggle and struggle to imagine
your absence -- I cannot quite conjure
The Bestowal of Wisdom
I want to someday discern what
transgression I committed in some
former life to have been left
so ignorant in this one.
I appear to be surrounded by people
who possess so much wisdom,
and who understand clearly
the nuances of human conduct.
I wonder how they know.
A Being of Loss
You are a being of loss.
You spend your days mourning
the fate of having a body
in this fearful world.
I am ashamed to say
this is exactly what I love
Your understanding of loss
is nearly an embrace of it,
although to do so completely
would require you to abandon
You have shown me you
can mourn all the ills
surrounding us, but still
You are a being of loss
who knows someday you
will surely lose yourself;
you know I will lose you,
and do not regret I will
have to produce another.
The best you can attain
is completion, the loss
Wants, And Their Extremes
I don't want a fortune, I want
forgiveness, the most precious
I don't want love, I want
appreciation, the commodity
never dispensed by those
who know you.
I don't want you, I want
I don't want to want,
I want another life.
Of course I want you,
in fact I don't want me . . .
tired of me, to tell you
But then, I don't want truth,
I want happiness.
Really I want you,
and the fortune,
and your love . . .
I don't want this poem, I want
to be content.