The Long Road Leads to Love

Reflecting on the violence in Charlottesville, VA

We are all Dante, waking up in the middle of our lives
only to find ourselves in a dark wood,
the true way completely lost.
We are all Amelia Earhart, flying blind into the vast Pacific,
looking for our tiny, tropical island
where we can all rest and refuel.
We are all William Butler Yeats, walking through hilly lands
and hollow lands, searching for
that glimmering girl with apple blossom in her hair.

We are all on the long road that inevitably leads to Love.

And we all have to descend through the nine circles of Hell;
we all have to climb
the Seven Storey Mountain of Purgatory;
and in the end, we all have to walk through a wall of fire
to get to Love. It took Dante one thousand lines
of Italian metric verse to get there! But he got there.
And the good news is: all narcissists, all fascists and Neo-Nazis,
all politically correct social activists,
all the just and the unjust, all of us, will eventually get there.
But the shockingly difficult news is this: that all of us will have to
face, embrace and transcend
all the fear, hatred, violence and misunderstanding
that’s tangled up in our own minds, before we can get to
the Love that moves the Sun
and all the other stars.

And, by the way, there’s no road to Love — Love is the road.

13 August 2017

 

A Sky Too Small

The shadow limps on ahead of me,
sun warming my back,
as I walk up to the high point
in the middle of the open field;
she’s asleep in bed, dreaming
of shedding all her ragged clothes
as she walks back into the garden.
The soybean is just about calf-high,
and there’s a dead tree in the front yard
of the abandoned white house
at the end of the road. A young couple
has been spending weekends there,
cleaning it up, hauling out black bags
of trash. Last weekend they began
painting it a bright Tibetan blue,
the color of the endless sky —
a sky too small to hold all the love
we’ve found in our oft-broken hearts.
I’m glad those kids haven’t chainsawed
that old tree yet. Maybe they’ll wait.
Maybe, it’ll bloom again next spring.

With the Grain

     I don’t want to fade into the pastel sunset
            in Vero Beach with Barry Manilow
            playing softly in the background.

I don’t want to look like Dick Clark, Ronald Reagan
            or even Liz Taylor.

I don’t want to walk my two miles every day
            at the mall with all the usual suspects
            in the Golden Age Club.

I don’t want to circle the wagons and get all
            my ducks and IRA’s in a row to defend me
            against the ravages of uncertainty.

I don’t want to spend my whole life erecting
            a Star Wars Defensive Shield to protect me
            from death.
No, I want to let my whole body age and weather
            like an old tobacco barn — showing the blistering
            summer heat of loving, and the gray winters
            of grief in every board.

I want to load my pen, paper and poems
            into a rucksack and spend the day
            tramping the open roads.

I want to fan my tiny spark of existence into a blazing
            campfire under the blind night sky.

I want never to rage against the dying of the light,
            but instead, become a dancer in the darkness.

I want to live every day with my arms outstretched
            and nailed to the grain of experience, dying
            each morning into the innocence of dawn.

Bastille Day

Morning fog like a thin layer of gauze lies on the hay field
that is lush and ripe
for a second mowing, and the sun is peaking over
the tree line as I walk home, musing about Bastille Day.
Old Donald of Orange and the French Wiz Kid
visited Napoleon’s tomb yesterday, both of them
bending a knee to the dream of empire, while
the bones of millions
bleach in the summer sun
among the poppies in France, the tundra in Russia
and the sands of the Middle East.
Like Carl Jung, I had a dream of a Great Turd
falling from heaven. Mine demolishes Versailles, the Kremlin,
Wall Street, The White House
and all the other fetid temples of empire.
The chicory and the Queen Anne’s lace along the roadside
comes back year after year,
but the dog shit on the asphalt
will be washed away by the next rain. So let us pray
that one day the pathology of power
and the adolescent fantasy of empire
may be washed away by a flood of liberté, égalité and fraternité!