Cañon City

I’ve been here in Colorado for the past few days. I hadn’t seen the Rocky Mountains in person in fourteen years, and they’re even bigger, even more beautiful, than I’d remembered. But there are things so much bigger than the Rockies.

There are things so big that one needs a whole new horizon in which to fit them. But the eyes it takes to see those things fit like new glasses. They hurt. That’s what this poem is about.


Cañon City

I.

Does everything die? You fool,
I went out into a field in the night,
and a chill wind blew through the grass,
and a chill wind blew through my bones,
and I forgot the life I’d lived,
forgot the life I’d wanted to live.

Today I climbed a mountain–
the scenery here was spectacular.
But in this dark, in this fog, I couldn’t see
more than a hundred feet.

Home tomorrow. A hundred feet, huh.
I can’t take the rocks with me, can’t take the cactus, the blue sky, the Rockies, only memories . . .
I forget.
Tell me: does everything die?

II.

Lord Jesus,
tell me: does everything die?
I am the grass. Green and fresh now . . .
Generations go, and the Rockies are eroding.
I, I am the fool.

Home tomorrow. I am a fool,
and my works follow me, and my hands
hang down. Only one Rock in this night
stands firm, Lord Jesus.

Reach

New year, new page…

It feels like an age since my last post. It’s been an age, to tell the truth. But here’s a poem (I’ll get back to prose eventually—I promise!) fit for a new year: a poem about life and death, about outer space and inner peace. Enjoy!


Reach, boy,
catch the starlight.
Reach out and up,
grasp blue-cold Sirius, gold Capella,
thrust your hand toward the furnace of Betelgeuse.

Reach, boy, and
touch the hands that hold
stars in place.

Touch them if you can
put your fingers to the holes
from which light falls

So far.
So far to fall. Wouldn’t you rather
earth met sky
black on black, brass on iron, and a sudden spark,
a man at the horizon,

arms stretched?

Day Two

Yes, it’s been almost five months since I last posted. I have few excuses, really.

For three weeks in July and August, I toured Poland with the Hope Singers. Writing about a trip like mine can be hard—how does one accurately and objectively describe large-scale worldview adjustments? But here’s a poem (because who says poems need to be objective? Subjectivity is half their beauty) that begins to describe my tour experience. Or at least, it describes a program on our second day of tour.


Day Two 

have you seen
my heart?         I left it first
in Kolbuszowa, I think, at
the centrum kultury.         have you asked
Craig, the American?         have you asked
his wife?         his kids?         maybe
the lights guy knows

have you seen
my heart?         have you asked
our audience?         those unexpected people,
did they take it like they took
our program— our concert—
our muddled radośćią?         and call for
an encore?

have you seen
a heart full of prayer, and
half-learnt Polish texts, and connections
too vital to be faked?         a heart
full of sandwiches and coffee and hospitality?
have you seen  a heart
drenched,         a Szczebrzeszyn chrząszcz*
in a summer thunderstorm,
in a sudden outpouring of
foreign grace?


*Wół mnie pyta: “Po cóż pan tak brzęczy w gąszczu?”
We’d stopped in Szczebrzeszyn earlier in the day to see the beetle. Plus, Brzechwa’s famous poem remains one of my outstanding memories of tour.

P.S. I love feedback. If you have questions or comments about the style or the content of my writing, leave them at the bottom of the page. Or message me privately via my contact page.