Saturday, March 10, 2018

a 43rd birthday poem for my wife

leaking through each attempt
is hope. this hope, that hope; that
someday when
all will be well, and

maybe that day is
a long way off, or
really, really close.
it doesn't matter. not really--
eternally we are prisoners

vying for the moment, to
appear in our fullness, then or
now. let it reveal itself slowly, or

violently--it doesn't matter.
let it whisper
incessantly, with each breath, or
emerge with a startling rush of wind.
that would be good.

Friday, January 5, 2018

be it resolved that...

I don’t usually post New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’d like to capture them. Here goes:

1. Playing basketball regularly, as well as controlling portion sizes, means I have dropped down to 184lbs (I was around 200lbs a year ago) and can fit into 34” pants and even some M shirts! My goal is to get down to 165 or so, though that is less important than slimming down and getting rid of more abdominal excess, and building strength. Time to truly take advantage of having a fitness trainer for a wife. Maybe I’ll still do that Spartan race this summer...

2. Building on that, I have started reorganizing the basement and will be doing some major editing. At some point in the near future I will be getting rid of a lot of redundant art supplies, books (literature, poetry, art books and magazines, and theology), CDs, and DVDs. Let me know if you’d like to take a look through before they go to a bin. This will enable me to clear out a space for Lisa’s exercise equipment so she can do training here.

3. In turn, this will mean a fresh start for me to make art again. It’s been years since I got my hands dirty making art. It’s become paralyzing. Hence the editing—having too much material is overwhelming. Where to begin? Time to get back at drawing and painting, and to pursue some exhibition opportunities. 

4. Naturally, I plan to keep writing poetry (#NaPoWriMo, anyone?), and to actually start submitting poems to publications, in addition to pursuing a more intentional and intimate connection to a (local) writing community. I want to find a way to get some real and considered critique for my writing. Let me know if you’re interested.

5. I will finally get serious about learning to play the guitar. There are numerous reasons for this, but foremost is the necessity of defeating my tendency to procrastinate, which manifests itself in far too many areas: not calling or texting or getting together with friends and family, not addressing household issues or projects, missing deadlines for grants and projects, and more—both personally and professionally. 

6. I will try to deal with the anger that always seems to be simmering just beneath the surface. It’s easy to point to external elements and justify my actions, but the fact is that anger only points to something lacking within me, whether it is disappointment, fear, hopelessness or faithlessness. I must face it and break its power in my life. 

I want to end 2018 being better than I was in 2017, with more creativity and grace and passion. I want to be more thankful and proactive, rather than resigned. I want to be more brave. I want to be a better husband, father, brother, son and friend. I want to be more than a prisoner of hope—rather, I want to walk dreams out in faith. I’m willing to do the work. I hope you’re willing to do some encouraging. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

dear john

(A poem for John Ashbery)

Let me begin by saying I find you incredibly frustrating.

(This line will be removed in later iterations of the poem,
but will ultimately return because it is accurate,
though not true. I’m still deciding). So many things
said and each phrase untethered or tenuous.

What if I aspired to the same dense offhandedness?
Nibbling at the edges of something bigger
than poetry, less than poeisis, when
I would wish to dine.
A passage of some sort and
this is the vessel we are building.
Did you know that poet means maker?
Seeing your collages helped me see your poetry,
though not more clearly.

I’m tired of chasing after your strays, picking up their shit in little plastic bags.

They say you were a beautiful singer.
Well, okay – that’s not true, but I could believe that
you were enthusiastic. Your guests brought wine to the banquet
and drank it all, too. I hear tell there was a lovely burgundy.

Go ahead. The seats aren’t assigned. And weren’t you invited? Please join us.
Don’t be alarmed. We have always been this drunk and disorderly.
But not really. There was that time you spilled your drink on your date
and there was no going back at that point.

There must be a way to navigate this but I haven’t the map.
I turned left when you should have turned right. You are my true north.
Everything is better with Rosario Dawson.
I keep turning left when I should be turning
right. Whose failure?

And what’s with all the birds? Shivering, delicate wings. All
hummingbirds will fit in the palm of your hand. Even a small child’s hand.

When reading one of your poems, we sing together.
I try listening to the parts. I really do.
I try listening to the parts, how the tone shifts
and glistens like rain on the road at night as the lights reach onward,

Once more the lash. How one faces the storm. Whether
it bruises or braces. If I might take your hand. Let’s agree
to disagree with a firm handshake.

Sentences keep running akimbo, unleashed. Language
angles in and you choose whether to bend the knee.
One must ever decide how one surrenders.
I suppose it’s time.

Go ahead. Let the dogs out.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

an 18th anniversary poem for my wife

look; i’ll keep trying new ways to say i love you
in these poems; i’ll keep searching for words –
stringing them into something beautiful, a necklace to
adorn your heart, or this moment, or the years

marriage takes to develop its true glory.
all that time, wear, and polishing
reinventing the surface of things.
if sometimes it is laboured, it is blessed
effort – how we apply ourselves to the task, true

verdict of the heart. where we house our passion
a breathe into it. where we build a home,
nourish it with actions alongside words, true

vestment, a cloak that clothes us with grace,
love the golden clasp holding us close
in the shadow of the future, the next day.
ever at work the hands, purposed 
the soul, the constant finishing of us.

Monday, July 24, 2017

it is okay to grieve

let me just remind you: it is okay to grieve.
it is okay to not know how one might find the way
to a better solution, or any solution.

it is okay that there are no words;
you’re still looking for them,
they are shadows on the walls of a cave,
fugitive and strange. you know what you want to say
but it is only with your body.
or rather, it is only in your body.
and maybe this is how silence speaks –
with the body, and whispers
about changes that are not chains.

and so embrace this grieving.
there is no point in thinking that
something on the edge of meaning
should not bear so much weight,
should not wield so much power,
should not be beyond words
and the way to name this moment.

you have a decision to make.
it is not an easy decision -
though no one ever promised you any easy decisions –
and the consequences are unknown.

write down the words and measure them.
or carry them in your hands to build a monument.
determine their worth.
take a breath.