the prologue

wind touches skin
wind isn’t skin

words are birds

eye is sky

Dear Words

Reverberating on my eardrum’s skin
you come in
like a finger on a guitar string.
Sound sends me quivering.
Some places hands can’t go.
You touch the soul.
But I’m not saying hands can’t talk
or what is meant can’t be felt.
Once I saw a deaf boy put
his hand on a stereo speaker
and snap his fingers to the beat
emanating on his fingertips.

I write the word: I am behind it.
You read the word: you are before it.
We make a oneness, a reflection
Two separate moments come together
but the word is still between us.
Someday there’ll be no words
someday we’ll simply be
like flutes playing each other.
Strike a match, light up this page
watch them go black and vanish into flame.

for John Keats

I think that I’m a candle
whose flame stays round the wick
whether set in one place or carried
never wavering an inch
from where I’ve always been.
I hold out my hand like you did.
When I’m happy and look at it
it’s not the same I see sadly
desiring or when I’m tired.
It changes with my feelings
which usually I don’t notice
like light and shadow pass over the day
revealing as the morning sun
obscured by clouds or tears.
When you vanished, did all vanish?
With a change of heart I change the world.

at the grave of Walt Whitman

I was in Philadelphia and
crossed the bridge to Camden.
“I’m satisfied,” I said.
“There’s grass growing here
and I no longer care
what anyone might think of me
or what the future holds
or when and if comes money.
I heard you speak, you are not dead
nor have I lived more than I lived
when you first spoke.
I kneel down in the grass
slide out some blades to chew.
I’ve read you, know your caress
and see out in the void your hand still is
trembling for my touch.
Walt Whitman, you’re the spit
green along my lips.
Help me to trust in it.

I worked on the poems that became the prologue in my early 20s when I was trying to get my creativity back. I’d begun writing poetry at 16, and it flowed out of me, but then it stopped.

The first poem was a line, a sentence I wrote out in a notebook. Later, I would tear the words out of the notebook and put them on a piece of black cardboard where they still are today.

It was a slow process to understand what poetry was, and where I got it from—from myself in all honesty—and like many a process, as it was happening I didn’t know that it was.

One Comment

  1. What a great abiding in the progress of the present moment here and where we are next, but mostly the before or before after past and future interchange what a break for, say, the Wandering Jew, and other fellow travelers… more telling at heart than shows.

Leave a Reply