life poetry

a sailor’s dream's okay for my heart to have a few irreconcilable differences with my mind...

I’ve been working through a couple of shorts this weekend, but can’t seem to bring my thoughts around to my feelings. Like siblings, they too often bicker and tease one another; one covertly rifles through the other’s closet while the other intentionally leaves the toilet paper hanger empty. It’s one thing to be a thinking man and another to be a man who feels deeply. I am both, not always at once, and have been trying, especially lately, to teach myself that it’s okay for my heart to have a few irreconcilable differences with my mind. Some matters of the heart are like stars in the sky, beyond physical reach and hung there by a mystery only imaginable, but nonetheless constant, true and beckoning. The ladder of logic, on the other hand, can’t reach them despite the best of efforts to use it for that purpose. Words, while having an enormous potential for elegance, expression and shared understanding, are just one way we try to lean that ladder against the heavens. I tend to do best, as I imagine most writers do, when I lean it to and willfully forget there aren’t enough rungs.

Anyway, when I get stuck like this or feel like I’m talking myself out of what I’m trying to say, I like to pause and sift through my old stuff until I find something that pulls me back to center. Below is a piece I wrote about 17 years ago. It’s a rather formulaic poem line-by-line, but it’s wistful. And it reminds me that rest is good.

As the night falls, and silken moonbeams lean
Upon the windowsill then slip between
The lashes of my half-slumbering eyes,
I long and listen for the lullabies
Of a celestial choir,
As stars conspire
To form a chorus along heaven’s mezzanine.

Their song recalls this sailor’s tale of days
And tells in tune the trip of taken ways
Across the seas of a life lived learning
About passed points but never returning,
Except by reflection
Or introspection:
Memories quietly hidden like stowaways.

Upon the walls of my weary heart’s room,
As the stones of sleep begin to entomb,
The shadows dance to the drumbeat of dream
In slow pirouettes with the twilight gleam;
There I dare no delay
And slip fast away
Into the sanctum of a restful night’s womb.

The crawling babe, the boy of yesteryear,
The man I am are made one again here;
As away upon the tide sails my soul,
As under-bow the healing waters roll,
I go and go beyond
Any earthly bond
To an uncharted shore and a more peaceful pier.

There the sky spins above my dreamt exile
And I, with eyes closed, drop anchor awhile
In a place relieved of the pinch of pain,
Where a feather is found for every chain;
And though soon the dawn
Shall mark it bygone,
I’ll bring back a new day from my paradise isle.

—09.24.1999, revisited

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