“Here in the Heart of Distance”

If I knew there was some place I could go to be reassured,
I’d be sure to avoid it.
I am not looking to be reassured.
I’m assured of nothing, so luckily
there’s nothing for me
to be reassured of.

I wonder, gentle-hearted reader,
if you are reading this poem to be reassured of something.
You could be looking for reassurance that you aren’t wasting your life.
I’d say: stop reading this poem and go make some money.
Having money may provide reassurance, and if not you’ll at least be kept busy,
and you won’t have time to read poems that fail to reassure you.
You could be looking for reassurance that you’re a good person.
Okay. You are a good person.
But then again I can’t be sure.

I do assure you of my love, today,
but once I’ve met you
my love for you
may fade.
This is, unhappily, what usually happens.
Indeed, when you meet me, you might wonder
who wrote the words you thought you loved.
Well, and who did write them?
The one you meet is not the one
who writes the words.

I am no mystery, I assure you:
I’m an open book.

Those are two phrases no one has ever used to describe me.
But for you, silent and solitary reader,
I’d lay the book of my life open wide,
I’d let you inside, to know me,
as I have never let myself be known by another.
I would let you stay unknown.
Is there any other way
to get to know
another soul?

Unfathomable reader, what separates us
is as beautiful as what brings us together,
the distance between us as vital
as the joining of lovers in passion.
I embrace distance;
I throw my arms around it.

I am sure of nothing
but the space I celebrate
here in its’ heart.

“Where Did I Go?”

Why do you look at me?
Why do you speak to me?
Can’t you see I am not here?
I’ve gone somewhere without going anywhere,
and where I’ve gone you will never go.

Don’t look for me,
don’t ask me where I’ve gone.
Go yourself where I will never go,
and you will know something
about where I’ve gone.

There is nowhere else to go
but where no one else can go.
Today I may go to church,
and maybe I’ll see you there,
whoever you are, I hope you are singing.
If I see you, do not ask me
where I’ve been since last I saw you.
Go yourself where I will never go,
and you will know where I’ve been.

I could go on a journey, I could
take to the road with these well-worn shoes.
I could go out planning never to return.
You could follow me, you could
go with me too, if it pleased you.
But though we’d be together,
you might notice, from time to time,
that I am gone, and that where I’ve gone
you will never go.
Go yourself where I will never go,
and you will know where I am.

I see you looking at me like a puppy dog,
as if you are expecting an answer
to your question: where are you?
How could I answer?
Where I am no one is at one
with themselves, no one believes in words.
The words spoken here are not spoken there.
Can you truly condemn anyone in me
for not believing in these words?
Go yourself where I will never go,
and you will no longer ask me such questions.

What should I believe in tonight?
Should I believe in the power of the unseen?
Should I go somewhere?
I can go somewhere without going anywhere.
Watch me be gone.
Be gone!
Be still, bewildered one.
And go some place where no one can follow.
Go somewhere without going anywhere.
Go yourself where I will never go,
and you will know where I am when I’m gone.

“It Is Time To Open, My Reluctant One”

It is time to open, my reluctant one.
When you close the door to be alone with your sorrow,
you close the door also on your joy.

Leave that door open, my despairing one,
let the plaintive cries of the others reach you,
touch you, bring you to your knees,
and let them bring you up again,
to the surface where a child smiles
at you in line at the supermarket,
as you take the change from the cashier
with her eyes so sorrowful, so beautiful,
so full of a hidden mystery
she yearns to express.

Express her yearning, my searching one,
as she tells you, in a voice so melancholy
and weary, so soft and precious,
to have a good day. If only you could
somehow make her day great, somehow point
to the greatness she has in herself,
then you could say truly
today was good.

Feel the wind on your skin, my inward one,
let this power touch you continually,
feel it even in the protected stillness of your room.
You are never so estranged from the world
that the wind cannot embrace you.
Open to it, and its’ touch
will not end at your skin.

“The Dark Eyes of a Diarist”

I look intently at the black-and-white photograph
Taken almost one hundred years ago,
And her dark eyes, deep-set and alive with mystery,
Look back at me,
And I fall back in time and in love.

Even without opening the book, I know
She is a poet. I am drawn and entranced
By the delicacy of her countenance.

A flowered hat covers her forehead,
And so her eyes, dark like the ocean at night,
Lie under shadow. Her nose is small
Like the nose of a sylphlike creature, and it magnifies
The purity of her youthfulness. Her lips are closed,
But only just; they are not pursed tightly shut.
They are almost open, as if she was on the verge
Of opening them to speak, but decided instead
To remain silent.

There is an air of silence emanating from the writer
In the photograph. As her eyes look out at the photographer,
Her other self gazes inward, towards her own heart.
Looking out, she looks within, and the silver necklace hanging
Around her soft pale neck cannot be as precious
As the buried riches that wait to be discovered
Below.

I look up and listen.

The fan is still spinning,
The cars are still zooming up and down the street
On this warm Friday night in early July
In this coastal town in the Northeast,
Where I exist now whether by chance or by destiny.
I exist now, and here, but as I look down at the photograph,
As I am drawn down once again into her dark eyes,
I imagine myself one hundred years in the past,
Knowing this woman, and loving her,
Looking into each other’s eyes for hours in silence.
Being seen.

Seeing her for the unique individual who she was, and is,
Seeing even the parts of herself she hated,
But with the painful aid of self-awareness,
That ruthlessly incisive knife, could not help but see.
I love what you hate in yourself, I would have said,
I love the parts of you that you think you cannot love,
I love you in the depths of your unknowable silence,
And I love the sound of your voice
When it is strong with the energy of intense passion,
When it is heavy under the weight of melancholy and sorrow,
When it is anguished with the endless turmoil of your sensitive heart,
And when it is light and vibrant with a joy as expansive as your deep-set eyes.

I love you, diarist I will know only through your words
And this century-old photograph, and I would love you
Even if I never opened this book.
Through your words I will know and understand your heart and your mind,
But through your ancient eyes, I begin to understand your eternal soul,
I seek to understand it like I seek to understand my own,
Which I do not own and will never fully understand.
I see you, I hold you in mind, and I love you,
Dark-eyed woman I will never know.

“Mystery wraps me in her infinite embrace”

I sit and I wait for the music to enter
I listen to the water; my eyes are closed, and the sun is on me
I search in the day for the unnamable center
And the night comes like the dawn, singing

The song never ends, but few are the ears that hear it
I came upon a blind beggar, and saw that he was rich
The path ahead is unclear, but why should I fear it?
I climbed out of the hole and found the world my niche

Mystery wraps me in her infinite embrace
While what I can’t see traps me, and I search for an escape
I’ve been discovered by Beauty
I’ve been loved by the sea
Those who talk to me of my duty
I see they are far from free

The pond glints and sparkles in the morning sun
In its daily dance with the clouds where neither wins out
I will write till the last, I will never be done
I will write with my longing, I will write with my doubt

Mystery wraps me in her infinite embrace
While what is in me traps me, as I search for some place
To be discovered by Beauty
To love the ever-restless sea
To find what is my unique duty
To sing and dance till I am free

Let the current take me home, wherever that may be
Let the Light rising over the mountains rise also from in me
Let the road remain open; let the words stay unspoken
Let the souls that seek to be whole admit that they are broken

I prayed without words; in my rhythmic waiting I prayed
I waited like a deep pond waits, reflecting the world above
Below me was the unseen, what in me I had not made
I looked to the pond and my gaze fell upon a rising dove

And I felt Mystery wrap me in her infinite embrace
As I remembered a strange young woman with an ancient face
Who had not discovered her own Beauty
But yet she found it in the sea
Who felt that to fall was her duty
But only by rising could she be set free

The stillness disintegrated, rose away like the mist
I saw the reflection but the Truth itself was evasive
She disappeared like a gypsy with a brief, fleeting kiss
My heart moaned to the moon, its sorrow pervasive

And I let mystery wrap me in her infinite embrace
And I felt floods of compassion for the human race
Whose cruel ugly acts conceal a deeper Beauty
Yet ugly or beautiful, it all returns to the sea
A race loving to talk of patriotism and duty
Talking so much of freedom, so never breaking free

Time plays its symphony on the timelessly still waters
And like an athlete I strengthen myself, determined not to be destroyed
But Time is ruthless, it has seen fall many martyrs
Fall like pebbles, like raindrops, made vague by fog, into the void

The vogue now is to ignore rather than face the implacable
But I must face it, I must taste for myself what kills and what gives life
With my pen and my restless feet, I will track the intractable
I will cut through to the eternal with this finite ink knife

And I will love Mystery as she wraps me in her infinite embrace
I will let her trap me, if only to see her face
I will walk with purpose towards Beauty
I will ebb and flow with the sea
To discern the true from the false will be my duty
To see through Time’s unending march, and so from it break free

“Soul”

My soul is broken until all souls can be bound together,
Yet each soul can remain a separate and unique manifestation.
My soul breaks when I see another broken soul.
Did I say another?
My soul breaks when I see soul, broken.
My soul will continue to break until there are no broken souls.

My soul breaks for the loneliness of the human condition,
The sense of separation we all feel from each other,
And from the truth of ourselves.

My soul breaks for and is mended during the journey we must all undergo
From separation to connection,
From apartness to closeness,
From painful loneliness to the unburdened aloneness
That we feel when we connect to and accept ourselves in our entirety,
Realizing the wholeness within that has been there all along.
My soul is not mended yet.

My soul yearns to be broken and shattered,
It yearns to be overtaken and sink under,
It yearns for years of suffering.

My soul yearns to be unbroken and whole,
It yearns to be given over and rise above,
It yearns for years of joy.

It is a soul full of desire.
It desires also not to desire,
How can the soul not desire that?

Will the soul be broken until it no longer desires to be unbroken?
Will the soul be broken until it is no longer?
Does the soul remain after it is no longer broken?
Was the soul ever unbroken?
Is the true nature of the soul unbroken and whole?

Questions, questions:
The soul is curious about itself,
It is a mystery to itself,
It is restless until it rests in itself,
It seeks until it finds itself at rest.

Will the soul ever be at rest?
Is the nature of the soul restless?
Or is the nature of the soul at rest,
And it is only restless until it finds itself?
How can the soul find itself?

Questions, questions:
The soul is curious and restless and the soul is broken.
The soul breaks when it feels the spirit of another broken soul,
The soul breaks down in weeping and fills up with joy,
The soul breaks, it yearns to be broken and to be unbroken.
The soul will continue to break until there are no broken souls.