This Foreign Land

This foreign land I once called home is
calling me back again
now that the hours have rolled around and
the hands on the clock point back to the start

I hear the old language,
cracked in some places, broken in others,
but familiar enough to be recognized
still telling the old stories
and laughing at the old jokes
Still singing the lyrics of a melody I
thought I had lost forever, saying

Welcome home
my son and my daughter
old man and pet
make yourself comfortable
Welcome home

chair

This Night

This night

That is so much like all the others except
For the way the wind whispers
And the way the trees tell
All the stories that they have been hiding
And the secrets that slipped through their snares

This night
That is not like the others at all
Because nothing is standing between us
No secrets or lies
No breath and no touch
No word and no person
No time

This night

A Shimmery, Summery Sound

I hope, for you,
the singing of the insects is
a shimmery, summery sound

I hope the water that trickles
across the slippery rocks
brings you something that can pass for peace

I hope the light
that filters through
the endless rows of branches,
casts its longest shadows
on the grass that almost tickles
your bare toes and heels and arches
in a way that makes you
smile

 

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The Presence of the Past

History is the process of the past negotiating its terms of surrender to the future.

Although the past cannot defeat the future, it will do, and is currently doing, all it can, to break as many hearts as possible in the present. Cruelty seems to be the guiding principle of those in power, in the USA and across the globe, as they confront the horror of knowing that their power will soon be gone forever.

church

This is nothing new. In 19th Century Europe, monarchies crumbled under a rising tide of democracy. In the 21st, with a little courage and devotion to honesty and justice, we might see white male privilege go the way of kings, kaisers, and czars.

See if you recognize our current situation in these words that Victor Hugo wrote in 1862:

The past, it is true, is very strong right now. It is reviving. This revivification of a corpse is surprising. Here it is walking and advancing. It seems victorious; this dead man is a conqueror. He comes with his legion, superstitions, with his sword, despotism, with his banner, ignorance; within a little time he has won ten battles. He advances, he threatens, he laughs, he is at our doors. As for us, we will not despair.

We who believe, what can we fear?

There is no backward flow of ideas any more than of rivers.

But those who do not want the future should think it over. In saying no to progress, it is not the future they condemn, but themselves…There is only one way of refusing tomorrow and that is to die.

He concludes that chapter of Les Miserables with this observation of the relative powers of the hopes of the future and the fears of the past:

The ideal…thus lost in the depths – minute, isolated, imperceptible, shining, but surrounded by all those great black menaces monstrously amassed around it, yet no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds.

Temple of Hera2

I Never Knew Your Name

When I say I never knew your name, I am not talking about the one your parents gave you. I am talking about the one you gave yourself. You know the one I mean, the one that bubbled to the surface of your life on a hot summer night, like this one, when you were all alone in your room, feeling inexplicably sad but hopeful.

This name was not one that you had heard before, yet you instantly recognized it as yours.

Although at that time I was hundreds of miles away from you, and had not met you, and could not hear the name you gave yourself, I felt the reverberations of its echo.

When I am calm enough, I still can.
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The Thing in Me

thing

The thing in me that
your long look kindled,
that grew and blossomed
under the soft light
of an all-forgiving sun
will not wither
will not die
but also will not grow again

The thing in me that
made me feel like something new
has turned around to look at me from the other side
and makes me feel like something old

The thing in me that
keeps me warm when the sun goes down and
keeps me cool when everything boils,
that keeps me calm when the bullets fly and
alerts me when the whole world sleeps
has reached the end of the circle and
like a song at the end of a verse it
has come to a chorus that will repeat
until the fade