Meditation on Being Told for the 2,859,276th Time
“You Just Don’t Know Anything About Us and You Just Don’t Care About Us!”
Do I Know?
If gladly you couldwould learn —
I’d gladly teach you —
What I know.
I’d draw you a map of the road to nowhere —
complete with all the allegorical signposts and billboards.
I’d put a star beside where my old friend —
The Prince of Darkness —
lives in his Silent Sounding world.
Do I know?
What don’t I know?
Did you know that I know how it feels —
To be me?
How petty, I know!
Pain, I know well.
Bear pain and smile, smile, and smile —
Tear-salt polishes cheeks and
cleans teeth and
scrubs desks and
Pain — three types: dull, sharp, and exquisite.
I know them all.
Chapter and verse.
And I know The World [has been] Too Much [for] Me.
Sooner it’ll make me cry.
Later it’ll drive me crazy.
But I’ll know.
I wrote this in one sitting at the end of a very trying day my second full year teaching. I had a student named Gail who was VERY high-strung, sensitive, and intelligent. She was the baby of an immigrant father who had “gotten off the boat with nothing but his suitcase and became a multi-millionaire,” and whose two older siblings had been valedictorians at the school where we were. She was under completely unbearable pressure to perform up to unrealistically high standards and one day when we were studying the poem “The World Is too much with Us”, she snapped for some reason and when I tried to calm her, she said, not for the first time, “You Just Don’t Know Anything About Us and You Just Don’t Care About Us!” I could look at her and see such honest, intense emotional pain and it dredged up unwanted memories from my own past. The bell rang, the day ended and I sat down for a moment of contemplation and ended up writing this poem on a scrap of paper.
I stand and gaze at the silent moan
of the shrine that names those who fell.
I wonder what tales as black as the stone
each inscribed name could tell.
Tales of fire fights.
Tales of griefs.
Tales of tortures.
Tales of peace.
Their stories stand frozen on guarded stones,
like the Grecians on Keat’s urn.
Their souls are gone, their spirits departed,
but on the ebony marble their memory burns.
I wrote this thinking about Daddy and the Wall in Washington. It’s not very good.
Dreamers are not made but born within
all of us who can dream but who will dare
to fail to think and to believe something
other than what we can see and feel and
become something other than what
someone some parent some friend some
unambitious person has in mind to be
through us and thereby fulfill the dreamer
innate in them that did not could not dare
or believe that only saw and felt and in so
doing became the product of another dream.
I wrote it. I remember writing it, but as to when, where, or why . . . no clue.
Blink of an Eye
Don’t shoot yourself
with the gun in your mouth.
The recoil chips your teeth
and they can’t fit dentures in time.
For the funeral that is.
If there is one.
If you shoot yourself in the mouth,
you may miss your brain
which won’t be hard to do
if you’re shooting yourself in the mouth.
Then you’ll hit the top of your spine.
That’s a bad thing.
Then you’ll be paralyzed.
Immovable from the eyeballs down.
So when everyone tells you:
“You were stupid to shoot yourself in the mouth.”
You can’t explain why or wherefore.
You can only blink in agreement.
Two blinks — “yes”.
“Yes, you were stupid for shooting yourself in the mouth?”
One blink — “no”.
Nothing — no blinks.
You weren’t stupid,
you just missed your medulla oblongata,
and chipped your teeth you can’t use anymore anyway.
“Would you shoot yourself in the mouth again if you could?”
They didn’t say anything about the heart.
Wrote this one in high school. To say I was an angsty teen would be like calling a hurricane a strong breeze. If emo or goth had been around when I was in high school, I’d have been one more all black wearing fool. It wasn’t until I got married and was finally persuaded (by Budge’s threats of leaving me) to seek help that I found out I suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder and moderate Bi-Polar Depression among a few other minor syndromes. Basically, I don’t have a chemical in my brain that is at the level it’s supposed to be. So I wrote this one in a pretty deep trough. Better writing than doing I suppose.
Annum: an extended haiku
Eyes winter sky grey
Lips spring sunset red
Hair summer wheat gold
Skin autumn leaf pink
Voice gentle winter snowfall
Laughter musical spring rain
Walk graceful summer trade wind
Smile glowing autumn moonrise
Her special beauty
I wrote this in college for some assignment, but that’s about all I remember. It’s not much, but I’ve always loved haiku and for some reason, I’ve always liked this particular piece of my work.