SEMI-FULFILLED POTENTIALS

Pretty much my whole adult life

I’ve been more or less semi-retired

A full-time undergraduate and grad

Student and the poverty and the freedom

Writing and performing music

Writing and researching papers and theses

Bipolar disorder’s attenuated capacities

Avolition and crippled will to persevere

Those week-ends asleep in bed—

The weekend through: Friday till Monday morning

Those lost weekends

A post-doctoral funk and bad jobs

Part-time teaching and poverty

Writing and publishing a book and journal articles

Music and poetry and bad jobs

A good job preaching, a calling, and full-time pay

Recording a CD of my originals and poetry and newspaper bylines

Volunteer positions and committees and seminar presentations

All for joy and no pay

Pretty much semi-retired and all of it

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WE TWO

Blasting tailpipe deafening cacophony

While pleasant sunset walking evening

Chatting hand-holding pleasant sun setting

Street noise sidewalk dirt dusty swirling twilight

In pleasant breeze sun clear sky heat

Ice-cream outdoors sitting watching groups couples

Passing by dogs chatting standing individuals

Passing setting sun breeze time

We two

LANGUAGE AND TRUTH

Your first written impulse isn’t always

The truth

And so revisions

Paring away distracting words

Imprecise words

Replacing the vague with

Clarity

Sculpting truth

DETROIT, BOSTON, AND BIRMINGHAM

People are not the same wherever you go

Travel can liberate you from routine—

Places you think are your whole world

Concerns and ties that are only local

Customs you are bred into

 

Boston and Birmingham—north and south

Have deep cultures, strong accents, characteristic manners of discourse

So different one from the other

Both beautiful, both terrible

I lived in both, loved both, and assimilated

Though still a visitor in both

 

One wants roots, a homeland, connections

I am grateful for the many successive generations

Who bred and stayed, and gave Boston and Birmingham

Their cultures, their deep roots

Detroit will always be with me

Like my childhood is always with me

 

But I’m far from childhood, from Detroit

From Boston and Birmingham, for all that matter

Frost grew up in San Francisco

Moved east and grew “Yankeer and Yankeer”

Distance from nascent bonds, strictures unaware

 

I am more what I’ve struggled with

What I’ve accomplished and failed at

Than I am Detroit, Boston, or Birmingham

But Boston and Birmingham and my struggles

Liberated me from Detroit and my childhood

Into which I was bred

A FRIENDSHIP OF

A deepening friendship of

An old acquaintance

Memories of

When we were both starting out

Life

When we were young

Shared memories of

Us starting out

Time apart, away

Much time

Our separate ways

Separate successes, accomplishments

Lives

Renewing

Friendship

Shared memories of

Our home town

Our early life

New memories of

Us in your home city

Doing the town

Visit

New memories of

Experiences, knowledge, collaborations

New friendship of

An old acquaintance

A RIPOFF OF WALLACE STEVENS

I was enjoying the music

Loud music, sometimes

When everybody in the band landed with the drums

On the same beat

Such a powerful pulse of air was produced

It hurt

The music wasn’t the rhythmic pulses of air

Nor would it be cathode-ray oscilloscopal wave forms

Nor was it resonating vibrating ear cilia

Maybe it was the electric synapse lightning-flowing pathways of sparks

Of the brain,–some people think so

The cascades of my emotions

Grooving like air pulses can’t

Grieving in the blues

Thrilling to the guitar licks

Loving the ensemble harmonious sound and the beat

As no oscilloscope can

Movements of my soul

Undulating to what is now music

Is the music

NETI-NETI

So many people want

Life to be sweetness and light—

In fact, saccharine sweet delight.

The eventuality of death repressed

As consciousness sleeps into unconscious;

Care only for affairs here comprises awareness,

Carefully, fearfully forgetful of death’s despair: the buzz-kill.

Others preoccupy themselves with

The eventuality of death and

Dour and gloom diffuse through a joyless disposition, joyless life.

Some say a middle way makes of life what it is

Neither blind nor dark

Enlightened by the happiness we find now, by knowing.

To me meaning is in passionate undertaking,

When in all one takes on the stakes are mortal:

The joy in work, creation, recreation, the music we hear

The clothes or jewelry we wear.

The footfalls we leave behind us, remain in us

Walking into time today; waking in time