Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shaking My Head

You know the lines.
A long time ago,
when both people and animals
lived on the earth,

a person could become an animal,
if she wanted to
and, the poet wrote,
that was the time when words were like magic?

Those lines?
We were all shaman, then,
channeling vibrations and empathy.

When we stood,
booted toes in slush, faces to the shining heaven, eyes closed,
winged hearts rising on the heat radiating inside out,
your seven-year-old toes thawed and snow drifts puddled out.

I had that moment once more
this morning walking to the sun,
feeling the hot surge,
toes to fingertips.

We don’t have those moments
so much anymore
because we are so rarely shaman,
though we need to be.

If I were wizard now,
prisoners would be free,
comrades resurrected where they fell,
our wounded would be swift once more.

These might be things are not,
and my diluted magic is less than what
it takes to clean the breakfast wrappers
scattered near the traffic light ahead.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Unfolding

I set out
line by line
to steal a poem from others
and piece by piece to build my own.

Sampled the sun,
the English glow,
the player of players who taught me
in my trusting youth,

passed from me now in much the way
the poet’s fire
burns too hot and,
finally, out.

As from a mountaintop,
he looked upon me,
called me to account,
but I stepped beyond the shouting

with a fresh scheme for thieving
and a dream of myself retrieving
the fantastic honors
we imagined for ourselves.

Blaming others for their loss,
though they were never more
than opium smoke or
the distant drums of nightmares

in the tumbling homes of hermits,
themselves returned from bathtub voyages,
aground like always, suffering
and staggering for the door.

Seeking foes whose courage
the cannibal in me
might make a meal and, after,
flower, fresh and brave,

to hug and stroke and love
with wide embrace and tender focus
the lives of others to whom
I meant to give so much.

And in the giving
get myself a place
to root in a world of rhythms,
daytime, nighttime,

heart on fire, singing battle songs
and hymns along our lusty way,
consuming obstacles like prey,
sipping at all the waterholes.

Bold, careless as the unscarred,
we were fountains of endless beauty,
showering gifts on a fortunate few,
never wishing to be wise

because what would be the point?
Never wishing to be wise
because what would be
the point?