word count: 93
i picture the evolutionary
march from primates to homo sapiens
& stand in awe. i don’t need to carry
around the whole Origin of Species,
our genesis painstakingly described—
it’s a living truth, this instinctive
contest of minds that made sure we survived;
it’s in us all, in the nucleotides
that combine our twin helixes; it’s the torch
we burn running the course of ages,
our succession of phoenixes, the source
that makes us driven, loyal & courageous—
& love, too, was evolved, because, i think,
it yanks you back, hard, from the brink of death.
word count: 99
when i think about the Tao Te Ching
(though thoughts about it tend to distance it)
i fear the utter speechlessness it brings;
i dread being alone to witness it
when the universe of all things profound
pours out its annihilating secrets;
i’m scared of being infinitely drowned
in that vacuum where no light or sound
can interfere with the eternal Tao;
i’m scared of being disintegrated
& never returned to how i am now—
the fate to which all living things are fated.
but you dissolve all this. with you, i am
embraced by the great mystery, not damned.
word count: 105
all the great Masters recommend restraint
of thought, word, action & initiative:
always be ready to respond, but wait
for the right time to strike. how do they live
so disciplined, their only time around
more competent than others, but less proud?
as a dam may serve to irrigate the land
& pens pinpoint the fine control of hands,
their limits must be what defines their aim.
is love, which knows no boundaries, the same?
if i want lasting love, is there some vow
that can bind & secure me to its course?
or are great works accomplished to allow
their workers to draw closer to its source?
word count: 93
i’m a laser beam: my fixed amplitude
shines just as bright no matter where i face
& can be ON or OFF, but not subdued—
undiscerning, blinded by light, i chase
whatever target falls between my sights
with equally lethal force. even worse,
my light, small, portable body invites
any strong hand, virtuous or perverse
to point me in its direction of choice.
only you, with your unclouded vision
& even-tempered, wise, paternal voice
can still my wavering indecision.
your direction, i know for sure, is best,
& warm in your hands, my burning soul rests.
word count: 67
from you i get the craziness to think
my pen might get as mighty as my love
for you, & fountain up for earth to drink
love in like rain collected from above
& show the world why life’s worth living
& make mankind wise & forgiving.
you are so magnificently worthy
that if your face could appear now, here,
plain lines would manifest unearthly:
the primal human vision, plain & clear.
word count: 101
i realized if i could only love
a tiny bit more deeply than i’d grieve
in the extreme worst case, i’d be above
petty paranoias that you might leave
& free to love you with such abandon!
the problem is that even bottomless
love can never swallow up grief’s canyon.
like balanced scales, grief is love’s consequence,
& as my treasuring of you multiplies
day by day, in layers thickening
around your heart, your speaking voice, your mind,
the thought of parting grows more sickening.
but i’m far too far already to turn back,
so i’m flooring it until i’m out of track.
word count: 85
a mental illness is a paradox:
addiction is the habit of chaos;
delusion is falsehood made orthodox;
OCD is unrelenting will turned
on its master, forcing him to stand still
& the noonday demon i know firsthand
perversely makes life’s lovers lust for death.
in every case, elusive mental health
skips teasingly ahead, just out of reach,
obeying neither reasonable speech
nor the hard teaching of experience
& perpetrating weariness.
i know there’s not some awesome, magic cure,
but being with you makes me not so sure.
word count: 83
kaleidoscope—an echo chamber
of mirrors—a finite space of chaos
roughly circular—constantly changing
patterns that never repeat—translucent
plastic beads abstracted through refraction
into sharp geometric focus—
looking through this filter indirectly at
the sun, which i can’t look directly at—
i didn’t always find little pleasures
so lovely—i used to poison myself with cynicism,
German angst, French ennui—but you
lifted me out & now i’m spellbound
by terrestrial life & the fact that YOU
are—against infinite odds—in mine!
word count: 67
i see some deep beauty in everyone
though everything around it may be shallow;
my mind conjures the vigor of the sun
when all i’m seeing is a daytime shadow.
i’ll paint a stranger’s picture for myself,
then find that looking at him doesn’t help
as i admire the part that looks the best
& fantasize the rest—
love, you alone repel that tendency,
outshining the most artful flattery.
word count: 106
sleep to your heart’s content, delinquent Muse,
with every sugar daddy who can buy
you; ogle any oligarch you choose,
give sloppy seconds to the little guy
& make babies with Satan, if you must—
don’t wait to sate your promiscuity
on my account. your lust won’t break my trust
as long as you keep one promise for me:
promise to love my love as much as I
do. love him with your trained & practiced tongue,
receive his love, & conceive in your mind
the strongest, sweetest song that can be sung
to a man—then sing to him when he’s near,
pretend i’m gone & let me overhear.