tragedy

she said to me “my dear, i do”
and i didn’t know she loved me

she gave up dreams – ambitions too
and i didn’t know she loved me

she shared my life for months and years
and i didn’t know she loved me

she left and walked away in tears
and at last, i knew she loved me

for surely something dear’s been lost
when losing bears heartbreaking cost

Second Arrow (two versions)

The arrow whistled through the air
and in my flesh it landed.
I felt a flood of burning pain,
my breast forever branded.

While tears of anguish filled my eyes,
I saw a second shaft,
and as I watched it flying near,
I stepped into its path.

“You nincompoop!” the Buddha cried,
“Your poor deluded brain!
Why heap optional suffering
on mandatory pain?!”

“O gentle Master,” I replied,
“That wound disturbed my soul.
In choosing this, the second dart,
at least I have control.”

~~~

Master Buddha told a story
of a man shot with an arrow.
It was painful, harming, terrible,
as such wounds always are.

Then there flew a second arrow,
and this man, he saw it coming.
Yet he chose not to avoid it;
no, he stepped into its path.

“How unwise!” cried one disciple
gazing upward at the Buddha.
“Tell me, Master, why did this man
choose to multiply his pain?”

“It’s his nature,” said the Buddha,
“as it is for us when we add
to the weight of pain the burden
of reality denied.

“When we’re wounded, and we won’t
accept the fact that it is so,
and we wish that it were otherwise,
so we doubly suffer.”

“Ah, I see,” said the disciple,
“and what’s more, I understand
just why a soul in pain might choose
to let this second arrow pierce.”

Then the Buddha was astonished!
(Not a usual occurrence.)
“Pray, explain,” he asked the monk,
“Why do we act so foolishly?”

“I believe, O honored teacher,
we behave like this because
‘first arrows’ plunge us into chaos.
Choosing pain restores control.

“In a world that often wounds us
it may seem our only chance
at freedom is the sovereignty
to step into that arrow’s path.

“But to give up wishing it weren’t so
is hard to contemplate. It feels like
losing hope that circumstance
might yet be otherwise.”

“Nonetheless,” the Buddha said,
“we must give up this hopeless
hoping for a ‘better past’
if we wish, in the present, to be free.”

The Prize

Underneath the rutabagas,
Carol dug and dug.
She didn’t find a blessed thing.
She gave a little shrug.

She thought she’d seen a glimmer.
She thought she’d seen a gleam.
But the earth gave forth no secrets.
Dirt was dirt – or so it seemed.

Next morning, during breakfast dishes,
Carol glanced outside.
What she spotted through the window
made her hazel eyes grow wide.

Out beyond the berry-briars
where the rutabagas grew
shone a light bright as epiphany!
Her mission was renewed.

She ran outside, her trowel in hand –
she’d find it now, she vowed.
But when she reached the rutabaga patch,
a voice boomed loud:

“Your arrogance will fail you, dear.
The prize shall not be yours.
So take your tiny shovel,
turn around, and go indoors.”

Carol paused, astonished
at this strange, malicious cry.
Then she choked up on her trowel,
a glint of purpose in her eye.

The dirt compressed beneath her boots;
the briars made no scratch
as she stomped into the center
of her rutabaga patch.

As Carol crouched down low
and thrust her trowel in the ground,
she jumped a bit in startlement
at one indignant sound:

“A-humph!” she heard, then
“So, you think to excavate my home?”
She turned to meet the glare
of an ill-tempered garden gnome.

“The diamond that I’ve buried here
is not for you to take!”
He said, before he rushed her,
brandishing his little rake.

She started, then she stood up,
then she said to him, “OK.
Sir, I wouldn’t want to steal it.
It’s your diamond, anyway.”

The gnome stood still and blinked at her,
and tears fell from his eyes.
He said, “You’re the only human
who declined to take my prize.”

“And therefore, if you want it,
this fine gem belongs to you.”
But Carol said, “No, thank you.
Have some rutabagas, too.”

The garden gnome bowed deep,
picked up his diamond, left that place,
and he carried with him
newfound fondness for the human race.

“Hope” is (after Emily Dickinson)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That tickles at the nose –
And keeps on irritating –
Until you’ve snoze – and snoze –

And Sensibility – is lost –
And so much you’d condone –
To make this nagging, feathered thing
Leave you the eff alone –

I’ve felt it at the bleakest times –
It springs eternally!
And – never – will it GO AWAY.
It asks too much – of me.

conjuring

arcane strings of words and symbols
shaped precisely as prescribed
by those who pioneered the craft
chock-full of raw creative vibe

forming, out of nothing, constructs
with their own reality
relating, interacting, changing
time and life, humanity

when i was a kid i wondered
how it felt when magic flowed
from the fingers of a wizard
damn, i’m glad i learned to code

“Clarity” is (after Emily Dickinson)

“Clarity” is
after Emily Dickinson

“Clarity” is a mirror –
Reflecting back at me –
And shows my soul particular –
Yet never separately –

And underneath – the Clouds – is seen –
And dense must be the mist –
That could obscure the Echo pure
that promises us bliss –

I’ve seen it in the darkest night –
And in the strangest Land –
Yet – never – in the midst of Loss
It made the least – demand.

At the Bridge

I can smell your frail hope, little goat
Just as clear and strong and pungent
As the tantalizing odor of your fear

They’re quite alike
These two fine scents
Sweet and tangy
Toothsome and rich

Like juicy mutton roasting, charring
Over crackling, reaching flames

But the aftertaste
So scrumptious
Deep and secret in the throat

That’s how you know
That’s how you recognize the savor
Born in some peculiar corner
Of the soul

And I, little goat
I love fear the very best

And it’s terror most exquisite
That I cherish in the darkest folds
And crannies of my
Prune-dry, shriveled heart

So now you’ve met the troll
Now it’s time to pay the toll

I see you quivering up there
One tiny hoof a-tap-tap-tapping
On the closest creaky floorboard
Of my bridge

I see your soft chin-hair convulsing
Like itty-bitty mousie in his trap
Sorry, broken-backed and scared

And oh so scared
And oh so scared

But you know
You mustn’t cross my bridge
Oh no, you’ll never budge
Until I’m satisfied

Are you ready, little goat?
Ripe to settle your wee debt?

Then come on now
Come on quick
Come on under with the troll
Come and see me down below

Bottom’s Death

The poetry prompt was to write a poem using only the words of one character in one scene or speech in a Shakespeare play. So I decided to write one using Bottom’s speech after he wakes up, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act IV, Scene I. I wanted to try and write him a death speech – before falling asleep, so to speak, rather than after waking up – and it’s an older, wiser, humbler Bottom, and in proper iambic pentameter (because he’s a serious character now). Here it is.

Bottom’s Death

If Bottom’s cue is next: to be no more
And sing an answer to God’s gracious flute
This ass, this fool will be a man and go
His eye hath seen, his ear hath heard the call

But when this play of life is at an end
Will I expound it more, this dream I had?
My ballad, peradventure, hath no heart
My tongue, asleep, can offer no report

My life hath stolen hence – no vision comes
No more shall mender make a patched me
Methought I was a duke; I am a man
I shall conceive of death, and her fair hand