LATE IN THE SEASON

Long shadows and a stillness in the air

In early August evenings, late in the season

While the August sun is still high in the west

Feels like autumn, but it isn’t.

The trees are still green

The air warm, sometimes hot

Despite the long, lingering shadows

And the sun long in the west

This melancholy season, this afternoon early evening

This time of year, time of day

Is mine and my melancholy

This late adulthood of my life

A life well-lived in turmoil, ecstasy, and joy

It is not depression responding to the season

Nor the memory of regret

It is a fond summation of it all

Waning season, waning day, waning life

Calling to mind the waning of it all

Waning ages and the summation of what they were

Late Egypt and its Sun King, before its conquest

Or Rome and its philosopher king before the invasions

Or Europe and the glorious cathedral building before the Reformation wars

Knowing now they were destined for disintegration, disruption, destruction

Swan song, summer, late in the season, late in adulthood

Long shadows while the August sun is still high in the sky

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SONNET: WEALTH IN POVERTY

School taught me life with meager earning

I learned to live, and also to live well

During the time I devoted my life to learning

I learned that the best things markets don’t sell

 

My material possessions now give

The means to continue to learn and grow

Impoverishment is showing me a better way to live

Books, guitar, and Bach on the piano

 

Excess wealth can turn into complacency

And self-absorbed indifference to others

Time can pass in mindless frivolity

In egotistical isolation from our sisters and brothers

 

Impoverished circumstances can be abundant

And meager income become, in fact, a major grant

LIFE IS

Life is not

The acquisition of money, material possessions

Life is

The pursuit of a passion

A life’s dream, a contribution to society

In youth, it is the pursuit of a job

A career, a profession, a calling

In adulthood, it is the maintenance of a lifestyle

In maturity, you realize that life is a pastime

And along the way, it can be

The accumulation of experiences you will be happy to remember

But, in truth, life is

The formation of the kind of person you want to be,

Learning who that is

To be and become who that is

By means of and through and despite

What life will bring your way

To be and become who that is

By whatever powers or Power you know

FACES

“A man is another man’s face”

For Michael Harper; and for T. S. Eliot there is time

“To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”

He even put pale green make-up on his own

Public face

Mask, theatre

The laugh that guy put on in the blues club

Which signified his lost center

Too much bar

Too much beer

There was that intense, intensive week for me

Together in worship and play

Youth Church Camp

Together face to face all day and into the night

Campfire, sacred flame, circle, singing

Sacred space, sacred time

They will always remember

I will

And then that laugh he put on in the blues club

The faces I meet when they compel a face from me

And the campfire burns only inside me

Behind the faces I now wear

APOPHATIC EXPERIENCES

Not every aspect of human experience

Merits verse

There are readers

And conjuring

Some conjurings merit exorcism

Words convey

There are nameless entities

To be forgotten, not versified

Pollution of language

Heart and mind and soul

Oh, you know it

But do not make of it poem or song

TIME AND REFLECTION ON LIFE CHOICES

He did alright for himself

That’s how I see my friend, now

He made a living out of music

Married and raised a family

 

A benefit of age is perspective

I knew him before it all

He was a waiter and I a doctoral student

We played in a band together

 

He got a job teaching music at a ma and pop store

Pretty much the town’s only music store

I set my sights on a university professorship

I wondered then if that’s all he planned to do in life

 

He taught and gigged the past thirty-three years

Married, now the father of grown adults

A house, a family, a musician

He did alright for himself

 

I got the Ph.D., but the professorship never came through

Ordained a Swedenborgian minister a decade ago

A long-term relationship, travels together and moments

In retrospect—the gift of age—we both did alright for ourselves

FLAME FLICKERING

Precipitous behaviors broken

Trust

Flower fading browning bloom

Cool

Flame flickering

Disappointment

Flame fuming

Mad

Tangled words, talking

Wondering

Peering through a fractured mirror

Revelation

Tenuous continuity

Uncertain

Reaching, touching, searching

Salvation

Time past, time present, time future

Flame flickering

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