Less History

As I’ve gotten older, crossing through decades
like Manhattan neighborhoods on a Sunday stroll,
the angst/insight ratio has fallen a good deal –
I see without the same degree of suffering,
the same fuss over suffering, which, after all,
is only as intrinsic to this life as rain,
sunlight, the restlessness of wind, night…

My question now is, “Is this wisdom?” just
this diminution of a ratio that expresses
nothing more than resignation to the effect
that I am first and wish only in second place,
so far back as to be dwindling to a point…
I was once a great connoisseur of wishing,
or so I styled myself internally…in agony

The summer solstice is almost here and then
comes a long lush time as the days begin
to dwindle down to the winter minimum,
that other solstice that’s ruled by darkness
and a wan light from the south… I have made
this trip so many times I have stopped counting
and that decreases angst, too – less history

Seven Freedoms

I’ve lost six of the seven freedoms
and can’t remember the name of the freedom
that I still have…it goads me on, robbing
me of any conviction of my shape or place;
it agitates me with each breath, so that
I am neither short nor long of breath but
syncopated as if a jazz played inside me
continually improvising, exploring territory
not on any map, lost as soon as found

I’ve lost six of the seven freedoms
and can’t remember the name of the freedom
that still has me…having lost their names,
I don’t presume to address the six freedoms:
how much the freedom that holds me still
feels like necessity, as if there were a cusp,
or many cusps where the two met and made
points neither freedom nor necessity but the two
joined to make something new, free bound…

No One Calls

No one calls
these Sunday afternoons

It’s a mixture
of peace and desolation

I watch the light
as it keeps changing

I watch clouds
voyaging the sky

I hear the cicadas
frenzied in their singing

The season is getting
ready to shift

Too few monarchs pass
through heading southwest

I sit and ponder, tracking
myself, eluding myself

Unable to stop
doing either one

The days are shorter
as my days are shorter

I can’t say what I
may have learned

Advice irritates me
even when I give it

Green acorns fall,
first leaves float down

In my heart, there’s
soft and shy music


Into the white of my beard
I am disappearing, becoming blank

as if my life was a cargo at sea
that once seemed to have value

and to be heading for friendly ports
eager to receive it and unload it,

to send it off into the commerce
of countries that I hardly knew

but time has changed the conditions
of the market, the terms of trade

so that my life has become quiet
and completely beside the point

I whisper to myself and I hear
the sound of myself escaping me

Into the white of my beard
I am disappearing, becoming blank

perhaps this is wisdom, but not
wisdom that can announce anything,

not wisdom that can give counsel
or point to coming catastrophe

Should I report myself, I wonder,
as a missing person, one among

so very many or should I simply
go on going on, becoming only white

the color that reflects all light,
and disguises all colors in its mix?

Interior Decorator

Memory, the interior decorator,
works in myriad styles, appeals

to all the senses, borrows from
everyone everywhere, or should

it be called stealing, for memory
recognizes no property rights

is no simple keeper of the books
but a capricious potentate with

purposes of its own including
rewriting of the history it tells

over and over again, so I fall
asleep one place and wake another,

whether it be tent, castle, mud hut
or even prison, without my knowing

the charge or having a chance to plead
(who can plead against his memory?}

Memory, the interior decorator,
keeps busy plundering my life

in order to furnish me differently
than I could ever have imagined

Thunder In

Thunder in heavy August late afternoon
puts me in mind of peacocks strutting
before a storm, blue green tails making a dry
rustling sound, anxious at fear’s near edge,
the multiple feather eyes moving perhaps
an inch back and forth and seeing nothing.

My mind can wander because it is of my
body, organ inseparable – these peacocks
were on another continent and long ago
and yet I house this within myself, how
beautiful the peacocks were, how strange
the dry sound before storm, those eyes.

Am I more fully myself being older
or am I not – no way to answer and
perhaps even foolish to ask as the rain
that was heralded comes pouring down
I am reasonably sure the peacocks took
no notice of me as I was taking them in.

After rain comes the scent of mint in
the green soaked garden, luxurious,
and the black eyed susans are blazing,
refreshed, quite the opposite of subdued ,
the peacocks strut in my mind and make
that dry rustling sound as their tails shiver

Thinking Things In

I don’t think things out
I think things in

What I think in changes me
I’m partly new to myself

The reclusive tempts me
I can’t declare myself

I can’t pass customs
I seem a witless witness

What is in me can’t be traced
What’s in me compounds

I can’t please and can’t plead
No matter what I’d like to do

What I think in lodges in me
Enjoys considerable freedom

I go on listening, knowing all
I have thought in listens as me

Mountain In My Mind

You have been gone so long
You are a mountain in my mind

I wander your slopes, finding different ways
on different days, in different dreams.

Remembering and forgetting mingle, so
I get to know you better and worse,

as I explore what’s much bigger than I.
These treks change my vision, I see your faults,

deep ravines that hold ancient boulders
and timber swept down in recent storms.

I see what I should have seen when you lived,
but love and need blocked dangerous vision.

I see how weak you were and how much
pain there was in your wanting what you

couldn’t have, I see that envy made you sly.
The mountain is beautiful but not tame –

storms rip down its flanks at all seasons.
I love to spend time on the mountain

knowing I will never know it, knowing
that it will keep changing and changing me,

knowing that it has no summit, no way
to place a period at the end of a sentence

You have been gone so long
You are a mountain in my mind

A Dream Slips In

A dream slips in the window
as if it were nothing but light

It is restless and also speechless
dressed in fabric of green and blue

It paces about my living room
I see ocean and sky and green hills

A breeze comes up in the house
I notice the dream keeps changing

I try to get near and to enter it
I can’t help walking through it

I am weeping when I come out
both for sorrow and for joy

Thousands Of Books

I have read thousands of books
of which I have no memory

Yet they exist within me,
fish swimming in their sea

There is knowledge before knowledge
and knowledge after knowledge

There is knowledge without knowing
and knowledge beyond knowledge

So I am quite learned without a way
to declare my learning which is implicit

I can not lecture or teach and I write
fragmentary notes on what I can’t say

Which yet preoccupies me on this day
after the blizzard which left almost

three feet of white snow which will
vanish in a week or two at the most

I keep on reading and writing knowing
full well time in time cancels all..

White snow rolls away to the horizon
as shadows of oaks declare themselves

I have read thousands of books
of which I have no memory

I start to hallucinate not recall
images beneath blizzard of words

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