The Music of Poetry

When the cat leaps in-
to my lap and starts purring
and winking, it’s like

the music a poem
makes in my mind. Or try this:
the music a poem

makes in my empty
mind sets me beside myself.
It’s like an answer

to prayer—-the mind
being nothing in itself
when the music flows

by fiat. A gift.
The religious language is
old but justified.

Valentine’s Day

Where I live now we
say Happy Valentine’s Day
to strangers in shops

and on the street. Yes,
the couple in the next booth
lean in and whisper.

We accept bewitch-
ment as our common lot. There’s
no universal truth,

says the professor,
but we who live here know that.
We confess our need

for strangers, knowing
that again confession lacks
objectivity.

Simone Weil

I can say in quotes
what I can’t say by myself.
‘The sin in me says

I.’ I gag on that.
I can just stand to quote it.
Is contemplation

the real afterlife?
I see her pale face, her kind
austere smile. You say

it for me, for us.
You, Simone Weil, still uncon-
verted, pray for us.

All Change

A jogger I meet
going the other way rain
or shine each morning

assured me we’d be
dead before the oceans rise
over where we stand.

Is life a journey?
We mention the afternoon
and evening snow,

then go our ways. I
to lectio, without which
nothing here for me.

‘Let change come (Merton)
quietly on the inside.
Just go for walks.’ How

did I get here? De-
pendent like Li Po on the
nameless one, journey

or no, given change.
We shall all be changed. As I
sit in this filtered

light and read and write
to my unknown readers, I
share the solitude.

The Master’s House

He wandered because
he could, the rest of us stayed
because we had to.

He crossed the line. We
watered the grass, deadheaded
the rhododendrons,

pruned the trees. We said
‘teach us self-liberation’
because he said to.

When he did not re-
turn, we found envelopes for
each of us, some cash,

a few trite poems.
The house is closed. We tend the
garden. Visitors

enjoy the grounds. We
smile, say ‘self-liberation’
as they turn to go.

Recognition

Journey toward God—
untoward saying! Two steps,
I’m lost in wonder.

God’s gaze everywhere.
A roadside funeral for
last night’s roadkill, un-

recognizable
except in acknowledgement.
The hole deeply dug.

At Home

I hover over
the hob, adjusting the flame
for espresso.

A cold bright Spring dawn.
Some say life is a journey.
Not this life, not mine.

I bring it down low
and wait. Change I can see, change
happens outside and

in. So yeah, I change.
Things happen. The heart dilates.
The birds wake the dog

next door. Does the heart
go in the dulcedine
direction? Let’s hope

so. We’re human, grate-
ful for the overflow of
small homely pleasures.