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

OUT THERE

What do you do with time

We shared, when we are no longer we

Those memories of us, photos of us

Places we went together

Time when we shared when we were we

 

How does an individual repair trust?

Broken trust, broken heart

What does an individual do with broken love

Innocence lost, admiring, trusting innocence

Echoes of expulsion from the Garden

 

I can hear blues even in The Ode to Joy

Guess I won’t be happy for a while

There is redemption with God,

Peace in religious systems

If feeling better isn’t cheating

 

I try not to get mad at everybody

They have done nothing to me

But from this place, place of downcast dour

I can’t find equanimity, the civil speech

I must maintain with everybody

 

And so I wait in the darkness

Without hope, for hope would be for the wrong thing

Without will, for desire would be misplaced

There is only the waiting and the darkness

Which shall be the darkness of God

TONIGHT

I felt, more than heard,

The pounding pulse of the bass

It was what I wanted tonight

I didn’t want to think

I only wanted to feel

And lose myself in the sound

 

Things matter differently

When your world is collapsing

You fill time differently

When the long train is running

There are hobbies, work, pastimes, art

Sometimes you buy things for fun

Then there is the casino

When the long train derails

There is just the fullness

Of that dark emptiness

Sitting in the power of despair

 

Oh, you may make plans

You may even dream

Of suppressed possibilities

But there’s mostly the dark—

Feeling that—

And the power of the sound

Tonight

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

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