Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Second Wave (2002)

My poems fared churlishly
(brackish with forced
feeling or too affected
by the voices I dipped
them in) until my divorce.
It seemed back then
a choice of Poetry over
Love, high verbage
forsaking one home
for the other woman,
the other crashing surf.
Something springlike
in the poems of ‘94,
virile and supple,
almost cocksure, not
for any burst of talent
but in the widened
floodgates of choosing
to go the other way,
my inward room no
longer a haven from
emotional wills but
rather open range.
I got my first tattoo
back then—just the
logo off the old Riverside
books series a man
playing a flute astride
a diving dolphin. My
shoulder an illuminated
page from a psalter
of song. Perhaps. I also thought
it might help me get laid
while wading on through the
advancing waters of early middle age.
I wrote poems back then for
a lover who also wrote poems
and for open mike night
at the Yab Yum coffeehouse
downtown, for publication
too, although the editors
all chimed back that nothing
quite rang the bell. I even
tried my hand at reading
‘em to the accompaniment
of an electronic keyboard
and recording the transits
on a 4-track recorder.
Despite the silly plumage
and trampish ends,
I had changed from the
one who attends lectures
on what poems mean
to a wanderer who
rides them toward
the hot betweens.
The best of them shined
with a feverish, almost
sexual sweat—adamant
and rebellious failures
to waken or connect,
waves on which I
was fully hearted and
alive whether I could
make you hear or not.
Love then got hold of
me again for better and
for worse, and I’ve dragged
this talent through it
all, writing better and
much worse. I’ve never
won a woman’s heart
or ass with a poem, but
I keep ringing the bell
in my little writing hall,
calling you back
into this monster thrall.
Practice may make it
easier to row back
to the curling wave
but there’s no sure
tactic for abandonment.
You just feel the words
rising in your craw
and ride again on
what they saw.


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