Up river and down—life inside my ears
Ghost-boats ferrying horses
Steam engines spit
Leaves at my feet
Listening without a single body
Do you still have them?
The faux diamonds you threw at your father?
In the morning
Is having the right feeling
So the clouds will trust you
Ears hold the world’s depth
Eyes complain about the candy dish
I miss Anselm Hollo who gave me a book when I was 20
Poems by Paavo Haavikko
Today I’m like the unborn
Listening and listening
One month I carried the Torah everywhere
The next month the Koran, the New Testament
The Dhamapada, Emily Dickinson…
I would like to speak with my 20 year’s self
Buy him a cup of tea
The fact is
In Russia once
I bought a coat from a man
Then gave it back
Mike the farmer brought Christianity to Finland
If you plan any razzmatazz with me you better not be a member of the Chamber of Commerce
A friend said recently he wants to buy a samovar
I told him I have one
Then I remembered it was in my childhood
That it’s long gone
I told a stranger my family came to America for the juicy prunes
I know so many poets who want to be celebrities
If you can’t stand the neglect stay out of the aquarium
I hid inside a piano once
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I’m listening to Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations on a windy November day when the last leaves are falling from the trees.
Did the ghost trains come through already?
All of a sudden he checks himself as if he’d said too much.
I wanted to buy flowers yesterday but didn’t.
When sighted people talk about blind certainty I wonder what they’re talking about.
About my other side, it has a lonesome house.
Everywhere, directions, possibilities, but still rain at the windows.
Where else would I walk?
I don’t like your smile sir.
Up river where they eat song birds.
I’ll lend my heart to you but only to make you hear.
Autumn, more ancient than my recklessness….
Another day, another mass shooting in America. Sometimes I think if I were the kind of poet who adopts classical rhetorical forms I might say, “I lived in the age of gun violence” as opposed to “the age of gold” or even “of plastic” and should there be a future civilization more refined than ours they will say “that must have been very painful—how did they manage?”
There’s prescience in childhood of course. I recall the first day of school after John Kennedy’s funeral. Our teacher asked us to share our feelings about the president’s assassination. I was in the third grade and barely 8 years old. Some of us cried of course. Some of us expressed fear.
And then a kid stood up and said “they killed him with dum dum bullets!” He was thrilled to share this information. “My brother is in the marines, he said they used dum dums!” “Yeah, his head really exploded!”
No one of course knew what to say. I think our teacher said “let’s move on….”
But I remember being repulsed by my classmate’s enthusiasm for bullets and heads exploding. And I also remember understanding that Americans may like violence. I was eight for god’s sake.
Nowadays I think of my 1963 classmate rather frequently for with every mass shooting there’s someone reveling in a testosterone soaked dance about the bullets and the guns used.
I disliked that classmate.
And yes, he beat me up one day just because I was blind.
I shall suppose for the sake of all things constructively imaginative that today will be blessed. I will meet good people. We will, despite our differences believe in one another by which I mean we’ll want prospective goodness for each other. We’ll not imagine goodness for me and no goodness for you.
What a thing! To write a paragraph like the one above! The things that we love tell us what we are. (Aquinas) I know what I love. There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. (Aquinas) I can be friends with anyone. Can you?
To one who has faith no explanation is necessary. (Aquinas) I’m not in the business of explaining love. OK. Now my prose is getting thick. But I will believe today love is love. It is sufficient unto the day.
I was blessed just four days ago when Baha my Uber driver wanted to FaceTime with his brother in Baghdad so the folks back home could see my guide dog Caitlyn. We had four minutes of doggish joy. And the fellowship of love.
I was blessed this morning to know the difference between my ambitions and all I can give away both materially and spiritually.
The free man or woman is like those barn swallows delighting in their flight at both ends of the day.
I ran straight out of myself. I’m certain that’s what death will be.
I ran straight into myself. Birth. How it was. Once while on acid I saw my birth doctor.
He had eyebrows like antennae.
I ran straight around myself. Like blowing leaves all my selves whirling around the street lamp of my body.
I ran through myself more than once, often jacked up on alcohol and guilt. My clumsy feet broke the delicate toys inside me.
Down the road, down the road, all my friends live down the road.
Ain’t got a letter since I don’t know when.
Older now I run to catch up with myself. Mind goes very fast these days.
In this life inside the falling a long sweet glide.
There was a time when every hour was whole.
Part of Beethoven’s wisdom is how he incorporated this knowledge into his late quartets.
For my part I have a childish psyche with a porous understanding of time.
The child inside me is wishful because of a leaking hourglass.
I’ve lived my life for my twin brother who died at birth.
The doctor had terrifying eyebrows.
I wasn’t a poet by choice but by the bardo.
I am however a citizen by choice.
Are you disabled? No I’m a citizen.
The smell of smoke from my neighbor’s houses….
A road led there
Where once they chose grief
Frail alders mark their graves
Passing in the Subaru…
St. James Infirmary Blues
True national anthem
Autumn storm warm wind
The withered ones
Next time I saw you
You were my anima
Spent the weekend with many aging happy people
Today I’m reading about the unborn