I was a stranger here yet better known
Away from all I thought myself to be—
Away from all routines that made me, me,
I found myself in being severed grown.
Away from all the people I loved best
I found myself in newer company—
I found my soul in this older country
Away from where in strivings I would rest.
I came in laughter ready to enjoy
Yet leave a somewhat sadder, wiser heart—
Yet leave more whole for being torn apart,
I return dyed a deeper shade of joy.
Away I went to see the world’s wide wealth,
I return now, a world within myself.
My feet pounding the pavement to the beat
Of poetry that laid the cobbled street,
I feel a shaking sense of bittersweet
For a face I only once did meet
And wind that sings its fingers through my hair
Will not again its subtle secrets share,
Nor will the trees and flowers for me bear
The fruits I’ve come to love with reckless care.
The rhymes that seem to flow from displaced heart
I fear will be stopped-up when I depart.
-Cambridge, July 19, 2018
A stillness falls and dimly-lit,
A bell tolls distantly,
As in this life we numbly sit
For what we cannot see.
The words of grief we hear afresh,
A melody its gloss,
As we seek out our souls ‘neath flesh
Remembered in deep loss.
This room is filled with love-lost ghosts
Of our most private pasts.
We speak but not what we feel most
And calm, though longing lasts.
A heavy hope here drags us high
That “good must come from pain!”
But leave us yet to wonder “Why?”
And slow, revive again.
Still we eat and still we drink,
Though bland without our friend.
Yet passing through, as in a cloud,
We find life in our End.
That moment gone was but a spot of time
Yet still I yearn towards its eternity,
To find it past yet feel it presently
For such moments are best realized in rhyme.
But somehow this one fails to really be
As full in feeling as it was before;
In that one moment, not a second more,
I find its spirit transcends poetry.
Oft the poet makes his meaning more
And gives a life to what is dead and dust,
Ascribing value, love where there was lust,
In all his writings, common turned to lore.
But this sweet minute cannot come again
And adding meaning’s mass would wear it thin.
The words that lie written beneath our feet,
Titles of saints, these graves in graven stones,
The echoes of reformers’ gracious tones
Which once and still all sinners here would meet.
And still these words evoke fascination
Of both pilgrim and poet’s seeking hearts,
Quickening with the spirit each their arts,
Knowledge grown into Imagination.
And as the lighted panes of color sink,
The sun behind their beauty surely must
Rise as the divine out of the dust,
Drawing all to come and deeply drink.
Great voyages were here put out to sea
And brought by mercy’s gift more safely back,
Lifted, purged and saved by utter wreck
Foretold in written art-turned-prophecy.
Come feel the place preparéd by the Word,
Too vast, too true for human reason’s reach.
Though past, the sermons said yet seem to preach;
Freeing the soul to pray and thus be cured.
-Cambridge, July 2nd, 2018
Walking through Cambridge, inspiration is difficult to avoid. My apologies to those on the sidewalk who had to go around me as I stopped to give this poor bird a proper elegy.
“His eye is on the sparrow,” so ’tis sung
But ‘neath some foot or wheel its feathers flung-
Poor claws curled up in pain all that remain
Of this, the least of these, abandoned-slain.
The serpent struck, his head then doomed to crush,
Yet somehow just this little life- this thrush-
Drops down, his sun-stripe yellow turned to grey,
And he who flew now falls into decay.
Though sorrowful surrender stills his wings,
Another takes his tune and still he sings.
*(Poetic disclaimer: I’m not a huge fan of AABBCC… but this the rhyme scheme that happened and it somehow seems fitting.)