Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Olly Olly Oxen Free

 while I'm being (perhaps unnecessarily) self-revelatory on the internet, here's one of the poems i wrote last fall

Olly olly oxen free

I am listening for silence,
tired after
a long hour of seeking.

the simplest, most complicated thing.
The Christo negro hangs on the wall,
souvenir of long-ago pilgrimage.

Crutches and eye patches littered the pathways
up to the cross.
If I but touch the hem of his garment

No tattered edges of cloth here.
Only the hum of the boiler,
ticking of slow radiators,
growling stomach.
Noisy critics pour water on the embers
of my desire—
you’ll never get anything done.

What is it that you want,
I ask myself.
Remember the sweet Buddhists:
be gentle on
yourself, on others.
It’s good advice.

Why should it be so difficult?
I write my poems in labyrinthine
Coming closer to the center, but no—
only to find myself again on the outside.
Not lost, exactly,
neither to end at a new beginning

I once would have said
that hunger is a gift;
the peril  of that old
self-sufficient lie more dangerous
than starvation.
I even wrote a poem about it.

From the bottom of the well it looks different.
Silence only magnifies the echoes.

Come, come and climb down with me—
we will be lonely together.

It will be an adventure,
giggling children in the dark—
hiding from our mother’s call.
Count to ten!
Ready or not, here I come.
Mother Mary sends her son
to share in our cruel games

The sleek winners cry foul
as he changes the rules.

We will all be released
but will we follow?

The ladder hangs down the well
just within reach.

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