Maybe you shouldn’t have looked in here, after so many weeks
or months? to find your friends talking about God knows and eight or nine expired poetry challenges, that feeling
like skipping church for a year, then sitting in the town chapel singing Christmas carols with strangers—
didn’t you want to cry? and didn’t you stop yourself, a disciplined no? but listen, I’m telling you
yes: find what’s worth saving, a fresh heart beneath all that must
A long-lined acrostic dedicated to the long-neglected crew at Yeah Write.
clear-coat me, Lord
with carillon and birdsong
or peel through the yellowed layers
bubbled, of what has been
self-applied, find in me
that thing unfounded:
clear heart, clean brush, blank page
Pick the object of your devotion—stomach,
brain—and call it your garden, say it is
for the sake of others; that the fluttering
leaves are your heart; that those twist-reach-
scramble vines growing heavy on themselves
(leaning, leaning) will someday feed thousands.
Life, I am your wholehearted servant. Or—
as much of a heart as I have left, is yours devoted
to shutting out tight these misgivings, which lean
toward a belief that my heart is, in fact,
a dropped glass screen. One minute safe
in your hand, the next face-down on pavement.
You know that sound: sudden, small, stifled apology
for becoming useless. How then the fragments
ingrain themselves, how eyes grow used
to a fractured view.
Inspired by Hafiz, “Pray to Your Hand,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky
stunned, chained—where is this cog in the great machine,
this puzzling piece in the grand design? is my part beauty,
remembering, simple love? how does beauty stand
against a landslide? how does memory shine
in a millennium’s weight of darkness? how does love open
one fist, finger by finger by finger, and then the next?
can the chain be fingers clasped, my one hand holding yours
or the children I give, having built them of love?
Inspired by Hafiz, “The Heart’s Coronation,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
“The pawn always sits stunned, chained,
there is nothing but divine movement
in this world.”
what could I teach but to give and give
and practice when you can’t preach:
put off this skin and its masks, coat, hats—
yes, even dress, shirt, pants and all the jewelry.
what is there to shine but heart?
when the birds only drink of yesterday’s rain
can we splash through the puddles, regardless?
Inspired by Hafiz, “Everything in Your Kingdom,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
“Borrow from your inheritance God has left for you,
This is the place to utilize gold,…”
you didn’t know you could be lovesick
for a place, two years on
and no cobble-walking, tender for streets
even crosswalk signals; so when your mind sits light
on the task in hand, stitching waves
on ocean waves or maybe curled winter winds
you’re startled to see just that turn
of the Holzweg, the shop with wine-glass
windows, outdoor stacks of rugs
was it the sudden sun-glint on your cheek?
all your pieces wrapped in a rush
still swathed in paper, waiting