As though to breathe were life

What use to stand at riverside?
To hold this feather, wishing hard
or hold my breath and listen, still
for even aftermath of storm?
Why cast these rusty strings of words,
scrape fingers raw on stumbling sounds?
As well to toss a yarn-skein high
expecting fall of gauzy dreams
to make a winter’s shawl. What use?
I’ll huddle, fireside, aching fierce
for sun. I’ll unpick stitches far
into the night. I’ll unstring words—
for nothing here is bright or sword-
like, nothing glints; and even hope
dies dim and dull, unused.

Mostly iambic tetrameter for the Yeah Write poetry slam. Title borrowed from Tennyson’s “Ulysses.”

Thorn’s Advice*

You know well you’d have been happy

had you not met her. You had your books,

your studies, the unfading margin of adventure

in a well-traveled world, the yearning

for knowledge. She has circumscribed your life

with these crumbling castle walls—dreams—rot.

Now you fret of rusting unburnished, waiting

for her whistle to call you forth, to shine in use!

Go back to your poets, those ancient masters

of high romance, and be content. Imagine

Rose never loved you. Imagine you can go

through life with this stitched-shut heart,

a pocket of no use, your gray spirit following

knowledge like a sinking star. As if to breathe

were life. Try it.


*stealing shamelessly from Tennyson’s “Ulysses.”