Pantoum for an Easter Afternoon

It is the resurrection and the life.
We talk of Jesus in his eggshell tomb,
and I make some snarky comment
about lost pagan holidays.

We talk about Jesus in an eggshell tomb,
pressing Him into the crook of two branches
remembering those lost pagan days
when the candy hunt was holy.

Pressing himself into the crook of two branches,
the Inventor hides the golden egg.
For this candy hunt is holy–
they must scale beanstalks and be giants.

The Inventor hides the golden egg,
and we scatter the rest to the four winds.
We must scale beanstalks and be giants
and think as craftily as our wisest ancestors.

(All the rest we scatter to the four winds)
Strange to be on this side of the game;
to think as craftily as my wisest ancestor;
to suddenly realize I’m in my twenty-first year.

Strange to be on this side of the game,
To witness this twentieth day, the fourth month;
To suddenly realize I’m in my twenty-first year.
When all I wanted was for magic to be real.

To witness this day and this month,
you must trace me back to a time
when all I wanted was for magic to be real;
when rabbits did lay eggs.

You must trace me back to a time
when I set magic aside.
Because rabbits never did lay eggs.
And friends never did keep promises.

When I set magic aside,
I grew down instead of up.
Friends really do keep promises:
saying something inscrutable.

I grow out instead of up.
The Inventor declaims.
Saying something in Russian,
the Healer laughs at us both.

The Inventor declaims,
and I make some snarky comment.
The Healer laughs at us both.
It is the resurrection and the life.




The Cold of Autumn

That tree outside my window
is tapping to get in–
and I don’t blame it.
That tree must be miserable.
Windblown, rained on,
and now unfortunately balding–
the warm glow of my lamp
must seem awfully inviting.
But this is no port-in-the-storm,
and that tree is no wayward ship.
Let it tap away all it wants.
I’m going to sleep.



I Walk the Line

I walk on ledges,
roaring traffic on one side,
arms outstretched and wobbling,
the cement curb for my guide.

Should I take the road less travelled?
Is it not favored for a reason?
Trample grass or brave the tar–
my coat’s not suited to the season.

I do not follow road signs
(traffic lights be damned!)
If I can’t commit to wandering,
I can ignore what they have planned.

The path ahead is fogged up;
I don’t see what it’s worth.
But I have a magnet in my nose:
I’ll sniff out which way is north.

I’ll walk my ledges
and get where I am going,
for destination is a thing
we have no way of knowing.



Frozen With Snow

After “Dreams” by Langston Hughes


Discontent is coming, frozen with snow:
when dreams go, life’s a field frozen with snow.

We know enough of hate to safely say
Earth’s headed for heat death––frozen with snow.

During these dark times, we take our solace
from company, windows frozen, with snow.

We make guardians of small evergreens
and tall globular men frozen with snow.

Without, there are yet sly demons waiting,
snaring forests and lakes frozen with snow.

Not even the vestal hearth-fire can thaw
Hecate’s still-beating heart, frozen with snow.



On Diligence

1) What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.

(Samuel Johnson)

2) Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are.


3) How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive? / How do you write like you need it to survive? / How do you write every second you’re alive?

(Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Non-Stop,” Hamilton)

4) Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.

(Leonardo da Vinci)

5) Nothing great in the world was accomplished without passion.

(Georg Hegel)

6)         ESTRAGON: [giving up again] Nothing to be done.
VLADIMIR: [advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart] I’m beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I’ve tried to put it from me, saying, Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven’t yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. [he broods, musing on the struggle. …]

(Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot)

7) The world will not be destroyed by evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.

(Albert Einstein)

8) True strength is keeping everything together when everyone expects you to fall apart.


9) But if you refuse to be beaten, you have some pleasant surprises.

(Albert Camus via Rieux, The Plague)

10) No great thing is suddenly created.




On Identity

1) A life that is, like any other, unlike any other.

(Neil Gaiman, American Gods)

2) No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.

(Friedrich Nietzsche)

3) A man is only whole when he takes into account his shadow.

(Djuna Barnes)

4) We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

(The Buddha)

5) There is a wilderness we walk alone, however well companioned.

(Stephen Vincent Benét)

6) “What the hell kind of name is Yossarian?”
Lieutenant Scheisskopf had the facts at his fingertips. “It’s Yossarian’s name, sir,” he explained.

(Joseph Heller, Catch-22)

7) The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

(Albert Camus)

8) Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.

(Martin Luther King, Jr.)

9) The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new.


10) Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.

(Jean-Paul Sartre)



On Light

1)         The busy lark, the messenger of day,
Salutes now with her song the morning gray,
And fiery Phoebus rises up so bright
Till all the east is laughing in his light,
The beams of which dry every bush where cleaves
The silver droplets, hanging on the leaves.

(“The Knight’s Tale,” lines 1491-1496, trans. Ronald L. Ecker)

2) One day, you’ll find that I have gone. But tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.

(Paul McCartney, “I’ll Follow the Sun”)

3) Painters –to speak only of them– being dead and buried, speak to a following generation or to several following generations through their works. Is that all, or is there more, even? In the life of the painter, death may perhaps not be the most difficult thing.

For myself, I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream in as simple a way as the black spots on the map, representing towns and villages, make me dream.

Why, I say to myself, should the spots of light in the firmament be less accessible to us than the black spots on the map of France.

(Vincent van Gogh in a letter to his brother Theo, July 1888)

4) The darkest night that ever fell upon the earth never hid the light, never put out the stars. It only made the stars more keenly, kindly glancing, as if in protest against the darkness.

(George Eliot)

5) Tie my handlebars to the stars, so I stay on track.

(Owl City, “Cave In”)

6) I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity. I want this adventure that is the context of my life to go on without end.

(Simone de Beauvoir, La Vieillesse)

7) I want to be a lion. / Everybody wants to pass as cats. / We all want to be big, big stars, but we got different reasons for that. / Believe in me, because I don’t believe in anything. / And I want to be someone to believe. / Mr. Jones and me, stumbling through the barrio, / yeah, we stare at the beautiful women. / “She’s perfect for you. Man, there’s got to be somebody for me.”

(Adam Duritz, “Mr. Jones”)

8) All the world’s a stage we’re going through.

(Lorrie Moore, Anagrams)

9)         Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

(from “Pangur Bán,” by a  9th century Irish monk about his cat)

10) There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it.

(Edith Wharton)