Separation from Hope; Refusal to Confide; Hunchbacks in Chains; The Mirrored Room Without Darkness; The Voice of Unreason; Be Still, and Know; Scheduled Weeping; Drizzling Doubt; The ‘I’ Afraid to Die

I resolved after my separation from Hope to stand at the window like a fire lookout and never to turn my back on the east. I wished to follow my own destiny the way a widow follows the arc of the sun over the course of a June morning. But it was winter; the days were short, and the sun was hidden.

I decided instead to hide, and I refused to confide to the beloved the contents of my discontented heart. It was not a wise decision, not a decision unanimously agreed upon by the internal jury. It was a split decision, an incision, if you will, that took me from the center, made a hole where there was once a spacious wholeness. What was simple became complex and convoluted, and I struggled with the words needed to greet people. I knew that most people greeted others with, ‘Hello, how are you?’ I also knew I could not do the same. It was not in my power to greet others in such a way, so I gritted my teeth and pretended I was deaf when my soul-sister asked how I’d ever bridge the chasm that separated my ignorance from her magnificence.

Once I removed myself from those who assured me the chains attached to their heels were benign, I wondered what to do. It was so much easier when I had a task, however deplorable. What could I do now that I had been commanded to be free? I asked a hunchback wearing a crown who was dragging his chains up a steep hill whether he wanted any help. He looked at me with the kind of vicious glance a king gives an escaped slave who, after being recaptured and hauled back to the castle through the mud, spits at the feet of the queen. After my offer of help was denied, I spat at my own feet, resolving to never again offer my assistance to a hunchback.

However, what I had been handed by those who had overcome their own uselessness, and were no longer hunchbacked, demanded a response. I recognized the paradox of futile effort met with unanswerable grace, yet I could not stop searching for the mirrored room without darkness, where through the blur of tears I hoped to witness the self stripped of what it wasn’t, but my weeping obscured the clarity of the possible. I heard a paralyzed voice, stuck in a dreamland of judgment, shout down that my words only added to the general absurdity. I claimed the paralyzed voice as my own and shrunk into a den where a lion was devouring its’ own tail.

Do not forget to tell them about the dance, whispered the voice of unreason, a voice I noticed rang clear and true and without distrust. Yes, of course, the dance. But how could I tell them? I would never be able to tell anyone about the dance. I could only show them. Everything that came to me from the voice of unreason told them about the dance, without my having to tell them anything.

Hold me, my invisible master turned mistress, as my trespasses hold me captive, as my addiction to silence produces its’ noisy hangover. I came to you to be held, and you did your job well, but I was not satisfied. I moaned to be held more tightly, and you told me to be silent. I did as I was told and was silent, and you told me to speak, to let everything out, withholding nothing. Nothing was all I could hold in and all I found when I looked in or out. To be without nothing was the only way to be, and my violent feeling that I existed without something essential made me question whether I really existed at all. If I was certain of anything, it was that I lacked everything. I especially lacked certainty. I did not know what I lacked. If I had known it, would I have lacked it? “Be still, and know…”

I knew enough to trust that my lying and cheating business partners would get me through the rough stretches I scheduled out on the calendar, the coming weeks in which I had allocated plenty of time to suffer from inexplicable grief. I boxed out certain hours of the day to be overcome by the urge to weep, and this I did during the prescribed periods, which came in the hour before bed and the hour after waking. During the rest of the time, I feigned an exaggerated grin, which was trusted by all but one. Because of this one’s flawless perception of my incongruous state, I trusted she was the one, and without flaws, both conclusions as false as her intuitions were true.

Be still, and know that I am not. Not all-knowing. Not always forward-moving. And not ever still. And still not—what? At ease? At one? At home? At odds with the one who is, I fizzled out in the drizzling doubt that veiled from me your kingdom. Not my kingdom. I am the veil; unveil me. Let me see my own face. I am the seeker, but how can I reach you if I remain at odds? This is no game, and there is no one to blame. Not even the one who is never still. This is no game, but that doesn’t mean there is no room to play. I play at writing, and I pray when writing. To truly play is to pray, but who of us here can play in that way?

For eleven months I have not taken a drink, he said proudly and with a strange trace of foreboding mixed with a lethal dose of malice. He heard a voice question him, ‘who has not taken a drink?’ Perplexed at this line of questioning, he said again: ‘I.’ He heard, “The ‘I’ that is afraid to die—that is the ‘I’ that has not taken a drink.” Why yes, he replied, of course. He heard nothing further.

“Like A Widowed Man Am I”

Like a recently widowed man
Remembering nights of unbearable passion,
Fighting the impulse to end it, unable to mend
The widening hole in his soul, so he goes out,
And the sight of couples in hand is a knife wound
The doctors can neither see nor heal,
For the doctors can heal only visible and outward wounds,
And thus the widowed man’s inward grief continues
On its gruesome path of self-destruction,
And as the fear takes told of him he takes a lover,
And as this new and unfaithful lover takes hold of her lover,
Her other lover, he shows up at her house,
Walks into her room, and sees her making love
With another man, and the pain of it commands him,
“Do something!” but he stands frozen
In the clutches of her infidelity, clutching
The carpeting floor and then gripping his own hair,
Ripping it out of his scalp, his suffering resistless,
His lover’s body and his dead wife’s body together consuming
His mind, in a fire to match his heart’s desperate fire
That will not die, and in agony he cries,
“Strike me down! Destroy me!” If only to go down
And out in tragic if futile glory, caught in the grip
Of forceful sorrow, imposing itself upon him
And tearing his fragile heart open
Like a lion tears open a gazelle—
Like a recently widowed man am I,
Though I am young and never married, and
There is no outward reason for me to feel such grief.
Like a widowed man am I.

“The Day The Music Ends”

I dance to move into the stillness,
To lose the thing that must be lost,
To choose to live, to thrust my self
To where trust counts for more than cost.

I caught something, I catch it each time
I dance in time to music that never ends.
Yet why when silence returns, do I fall apart?
Why when the body stops moving, does the heart
Fill with sorrow and grief, with the tragic jewels
That adorn the dances of sages and magic fools?

The heart fills with what always returns,
And until I am empty, will I always yearn?
In the silence of this movement, lend me a moment,
Turn to me, Lady of rhythmic serenity,
Lend me the key to see into your heart,
The gift that shatters what it later mends,
The soul still dancing when the music ends.

I dance to admit the gift, and to give it,
To give the thing that gripped is lost,
To live at last, be stripped of self,
Throw off that whip at any cost.

I held something, I hold it each time
I loosen my hold on what holds me under,
On thunder road I forget myself and stagger,
I trip over my feet, and a man with a dagger
Wakes me at sunrise on solsbury hill;
I look into his eyes as he goes in for the kill.

I have no things, and I have no home,
And until I find her, I will always roam
In this movement of silence, through the noise with the word:
I will write, and I will dance; my voice will be heard.
I will search for the key to see into her heart,
The gift that shatters what it later mends,
The soul still dancing when the music ends.

I dance to turn my sorrows inside out,
To earn the thing that has always been lost,
To learn how to move within my doubt,
Spin closer to the thing that has no cost.

I felt something, I feel it each time
The music takes my feet away from me.
I cannot say what it is that keeps touching me,
Or why I move like some demon is clutching me,
Or why when I return to the silence of my room,
I hurt like a man dragged by his hair into her tomb.

I will die someday, and who knows if these words will endure?
They may stay unread, unsung and obscure,
But the unsung can still sing, can still dance in their way,
So when the last hour strikes, on the day before decay,
I pray I have found the key to see into her heart,
I pray the gift that had shattered has healed, and transcends
And that the soul still dances the day the music ends.

“What Do You Want?”

Can you let deadly calm possess you?
Can you let stillness confess its wordless secrets
On this windless morning?

You want to give everything,
But you have nothing to give.
You want to be yourself,
But do you know who that is?
You do not want to speak,
But you expect to be heard.
You do not want to be swayed,
But you demand to be stirred.

Can you let the river of unknowing stir you?
Can you let mystery endure amidst the empty uproar
On this wind-strewn afternoon?

You want to get out of here,
But you don’t know which way.
You want to say it all so clearly,
But you don’t know what to say.
You do not want to weep,
But you’d love to be honest.
You do not want to be surprised,
But you demand to be astonished.

Do your unending demands astonish you?
Do your own offending hands admonish you?
Feel the wind die down in the early evening.
Even it does not pretend to acknowledge you.

You want to change everyone else
So long as you can remain the exact same.
You want the world to be different
So long as you don’t have to feel any pain.
You don’t need to be with anyone
So long as they all want to be with you.
You are just fine with being all alone
Just so long as you are being pursued.

Can you let happiness pursue you?
Can you get out of your way long enough
To let the wind that picks up at dusk
Cut you back down and pull you through?

You want to remember how it was
So long as it was better back then.
You want to imagine how it will be
So long as it gets better again.
You don’t want to stay stuck here
So long as there’s someplace better to go.
You don’t mind stickin’ around
So long as someone here still enjoys your show.

Can you feel the agony of all your divisions?
Can you kneel over every one of your tragic decisions?
You open the window, no wind blows inside.
In the darkest part of the motionless night,
The silence pierces you with deadly precision.