Notes from the Dungeon

To yearn is to be lacking;
I have learned this lesson well.
Remember what you are, o man,
How close you are to hell–

how infinite and wondrous
are the ways of God to man.
My soul forgets the meaning
of desire–a joy that spans

the universe is not enough
to teach it how to sing.
Each moment I remember
Is a sacred treasured thing.

but all the dull grey moments
in between them cloud my thoughts.
Despair takes hold too often;
my heart, colorblind, rots.

I know my heart is lacking;
I know I am not well.
I know  I dangle perilously
close to yet another hell.

But sometimes cracks the veil
So light can struggle through.
How tenuous a hope is life
But yet alluring too.

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The Pill

The bottle stares back at her, filled

with pills–so small, to change so much

and she hesitates. what if–

what if it doesn’t work

if nothing changes

if she is still

trapped

what if she can’t escape

the prison of her own brain

the nervous system that tells her run

as she stands frozen

trapped

inside her own body

trapped

by all the choices

trapped

and she hesitates. what if–

what if this is it

the final tipping point

in the battle between her and it

‘it’ she says. her illness.

hers only in the sense

that a captor is yours

her anxiety. her abuser. her nightmare.

a thing separate from her

and yet so very close

sliding under her skin

wrapped around her heart

breathing with her lungs

and what if this pill

that is supposed to help

what if this is the thing

that finally gives it the upper hand

“side effects include depression

and suicidal thoughts,” it says

what if she will never escape

what if this is the thing that will turn her cage

into a coffin

what if the only way this ends

is in death

what if it squeezes her heart like a python

rips out from under her skin

drowns her lungs in vacant tears

how can you tell when it gets worse

what if you can’t

what if–

and she hesitates. what if–

what if the anxiety is what has made her special

what if the words she has are actually a gift from it

what if the medicine works

and the final ‘screw you’ from

her anxiety, her nightmare, her dementor, her little death

is her words leaving

leaving her alone

what will be left when the fear is gone?

what is she apart from her companion

her little death wrapped around her heart

the lies that have lived along her nerves for so long

what if there is nothing there?

who is she without it?

they talk about normal

but she can’t remember a time

when her life was not colored

like an unsmiling photograph found in a box

by the ancient unending unrelenting fear

what if normal is someone else?

and she hesitates.

but in the end she takes it

the tiny pill

that might change so much

because the anxiety is laughing at her

and she cannot bear it.

Breaking the Fast

morningMorning has broken, like the first morning

that the sun peeped over new-made hills

light gathered up, o’erspilling its holding

sphere, inaccessible, luminous shadow,

early bird opening first pair of lungs

to sing. The first notes that ever poured forth

echoed down through all time: morning has sprung.

so we arise. Dew-prints left behind us,

refractions from snow, the rhythm of insects

proclaiming the sunlight: the breaking of fast

with food, with awakening, the end of our rest.

Poetry Class

college
Poetry cannot be taught,

And writing is not learned.

Classrooms give no wings to thought–

Nor teach you how to yearn.

But watch the world for half an hour–

Be silent in your soul.

Leave, for once, your ivory tower

And listen to the pull

Of falling stars, of concrete, trees,

Of lovers’ rendezvous–

Dance unshod through dewy grass,

Or memorize your shoes.

Read a book–or two–or three–

That makes you laugh aloud;

Be unashamed to shout and weep

Amidst the grey-black crowd.

Then listen to a little child

As if he were a king;

Sit with him an hour, and wind

His yo-yo on its string.

Then–and only then–you might

Begin to hear the song

That underscores the woolen night;

That makes the day run long.

Then once you steal the glittering words

That fill the thickened air

The heartbeat of the universe

Might open to your ears.

And if to class you then return

You’ll know the truth untold:

A poet’s born, and learns to yearn

By first becoming old.

PC me.