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Friday, July 23, 2010

the road

Scottsburg, Indiana

a weariness drives me to go
a subtle pall that builds
from the waiting
and knowing it’s not yet time
a different kind of ache
that eats at your brain
like a cancer
that will not enter remission

i kid myself into believing
there is a cure
but there is none
there is only
the road bound fatigue
that propels me into anxiety
for the perfect vista
the ultimate sweeping corner
that constant human urge
to not live in this moment
but to desire for the next
hoping it will ease the fatigue

my body aches
from the heat and the physical task
of the motorcycle being
not an extension of me
but me
i am not an observer
or a witness
but a part of it
living in it
having it now

i fight the idea that
i will carry the memories of it
for future road lust
as a form of satisfaction
because it is a kind of distancing
then i will miss it
and it will be gone
truly gone

i try to remember
that to experience the road
is to get it all
the love
the lust
the burn in my legs
the pangs in my back
the thirst and exhaustion
from the stunning southern heat
and moving forward
when it feels bad
to do so
it doesn’t matter
i go

Michael B

Sunday, July 11, 2010

love in a dream

i awakened with a start
and the sickening reality
that i was wracked with a feeling
of deliciously rich emotion
in the pit of my stomach
and the hollow of my heart
and somehow it was attached
to a girl i knew
yet had never given
a second thought

my body pelted
with a blast of things
i had not felt
in places i did not know
that i could feel them
i knew it was love
yet it felt so tenuous
like a handful of cotton candy
stuffed in my mouth
the sweetness intense
for a gossamer second
and then it is gone

i was stunned
at love’s abruption
for someone i’d known
yet didn’t know
my whole life
where had love come from?
i had to know how it happened
i had to follow its flow

at once i am on a mission
to seek her daily
with a fidelity i could not control
to see her face
or the cut of her hair
the depth of her eyes
or the softness of her lips
or some other vision
i must have missed

i gave up my bike
and took to my feet
walking always
the long way home
from a friend’s
or from ball practice
so as not to rush by
too quickly
but absorb her
as slowly as i dare

i passed her house by
so many times
i came to know every flower
and every weed in her unkempt yard
and the yapping little dog
who rushed to the fence
each time i wandered by

i even noticed
the window that was cracked
in the front room
that was not the day before
on the white house with the dark green trim
whose paint was peeling
in places
yet i had no idea what i would do
should she walk through that door

i’m drawn to her street
over and over
sometimes twice or thrice each day
the one time in my life
when i hate the summer
and miss the school yard
for there i’d see her every day
without the aching
or the wondering
if today might be the day

and then one morning
hot and windy
ambling up her street
at last i see her
sitting on her porch
with a garden green hose
her perfect hands are wet
from watering her mother’s
straggly pink gardenias

I find myself there
barely breathing
frozen on the spot
on the walk outside her yard
in a place that’s perfect
from which to spy her
as her dark short hair
blows winsome across
the creamy white face
of an angel

something’s changed!
this cannot be
the same gangly legged girl
who once punched my eye
for hitting her so hard
with a red rubber dodge ball
that it left a welt
in a game i could not lose

i’m dazed and i’m gasping
from the river of emotion
that’s washing over me
i feel that i might drown
if i don’t awaken
from the purgatory
i’ve been caught in
midway between
the world and a dream

it must have been an hour
before i came to
when lightly she turned her head
to brush back her hair
gaining her focus
she sees me
and returns with a start
to reoccupy herself
with the watering
of the flowers
i know she does not see

and then i notice
a little smile
spreading slowly across her face
it’s wider now
as she tries to decide
to acknowledge me
or let me go

i hold my ground
and hold my gaze
emboldened by the
numberless days
i’ve lived this moment
right here on this street
in this spot on this walk
in front of this green and white house

a speechless connection
i feel her smiling
my heart is smiling wider
then she turns her head
once more to engage me
in her love while
a tear runs down her face
having never seen
someone cry with
a face full of joy

my fear subsides
when at once i’m struck
with the meaning of her tears
i believed i was stuck
all these long summer days
in this mire all alone
but now i see
that the two of us
are stuck
in this endless space

michael bratton

Friday, July 2, 2010

Our new US Poet Laureate: MS Werwin

MS Merwin is one my poet heroes. The US Library of Congress got it right this year by appointing Merwin as Poet Laureate. At 82 years old, he is still going strong as a literary giant and we are all much better off because of it. Merwin's prosy, stream of consciousness style is the style of poetry that I most identify with, and he is the master of it. Here's a sample of one of his best.

For The Anniversary Of My Death by W. S. Merwin

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what