They call it the morning moon; that time of early morning where the sky is turning blue, but you can still see the moon. The sun hasn’t risen yet, but you know that it’s coming and it’s effects are driving away the night. It was this hour of morning that I wrote the poem Waiting for Dawn. If you take just the gerunds from the poem and list them out, they themselves tell a story:
From beginning to blossoming there is a linear process happening to us as individuals and if you take Romans 8 seriously (as you should) it’s a process that the entire creation is longing for in an ultimate sense, when this temporary phase of life will be done away with, swallowed up in eternity. I still like to read this poem when I wake before the sun and I’m able to (weather permitting) enjoy a cup of coffee on my porch as the world is waking up.
Blossoming in this poem begins with a disappearance. The old-self must disappear before you can engage in the new mode of living that leads to the process of becoming that doesn’t end until we blossom into what it is that we shall one day be. I hope these thoughts help you to appreciate the scope of the poem, but also that you will have new eyes, able to see beyond the thorny sky that hovers over our coming transition.
Waiting for Dawn
I watched the sky’s new day
beginning, as the stars were
disappearing, but I know they’re
still out there; blinking, bursting
and becoming. Perhaps other things
exist beyond our rose-colored
vision of this thorny sky, hovering
over our transition into a blossoming,
I began writing poetry after the end of a three year relationship. It wasn’t a healthy ending to a healthy relationship to say the least. It left me immobilized by depression and the first poems that I wrote were sort-of poems of survival if you will. I needed to get them outside of myself in order to do something with the issues I was facing. In this way I have always been different from my family. We’re Irish and Italian, and the Irish in us refuses to be direct about feelings. In fact, as a sort of pride, my family has honed the practice of withholding feelings and bottling them up until they become a cancer (literally) and kill us. It’s generally true that you’re either going to follow the example of those who mold and shape you as you grow up, or rebel against them and swing in the opposite direction. That is what poetry has been for me; a protest against the unwillingness for direct communication and telling others how you truly feel.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect practice, this breaking free from the patterns of behavior that are learned by experience and those around you. So, in my worst moments I have regressed back into the form of shutting down that I learned from those who shaped me growing up. Some of the poetry in The Golden Road reflects this period of my life. Some very hard years of being homeless and relying on friends and the kindness of even strangers to take me in and help me break free from the chains of immobilizing depression and self-abuse. They aren’t “fluffy.” These poems are honest and open and they’ve helped me to wrestle with the wolves as they say. One of the truly breakthrough poems in this area of poetry is the poem “Spleen.” I’ve included it below and also included a video of me performing the poem on the Media tab of the site. I pray that it helps others to break out of whatever it is that is keeping you back or causing you to be immobilized in your life.
Dust settles on what was a polished
centerpiece; hired hands in my halls
of memory are reluctant to relocate
your face to some corner gallery
of past mistakes. My cobwebs of
self-righteousness, like a knight who
lost his trusty steed to ride him into
battle. To sit instead upon the river
Styx as distant war-drums prove me
traitorous, skipping stones to watch
the ripples fade and then return to
rest. The self-deception that refusing
to participate is security from failure
or that one can choose to live in death
alone; to give no more and yet still
hope to sow the future. It’s time to
wax the halls, prepare the dining room,
invite the neighbors in, relight the
candlesticks and pour the wine; rewrite
the manuscript, new cast of characters,
unmask these hidden fears
and fight for life—undying.
It’s the new year and a change in the calender. Most people feel as though a change of time and the way in which we mark time has a seemingly mystical change in our lives as well. This is true of the individual (with our New Years resolutions ‘This year, things will be different’), but also of the human family as a whole. We feel that since we are further along in time, that somehow that means we are smarter, better, more advanced in various ways etc. However, the reasons for thinking this way can actually be deceptive. Though it is true that technology has progressed with the passing of time, there is nothing really “new” about this. If you look at history and the progression of civilizations (which have come and gone btw), there have been moments and eras that have been large leaps forward in terms of progress in various areas of life. However, most of the civilizations we can study since the writing and recording of History have seemed to progress to the point of self-destruction. This sort of worship of Progress (with a capital P) has been the pride of the elite and those who benefit from the advances that come with a focus on progress, be it political, social, economical or whatever. The truth of the matter is that there is still a huge unbalance in the distribution of benefits from the progress that time can bring to certain civilizations. Some are obese and suffering from having too-much while others are dying of starvation. This alone should have us suspect of the illusion that Progress can create. But, I digress, because I want to really just focus on the way we view “Time” itself and set the groundwork for the thoughts that went into two of my poems; Watershed Moments, and Momentary, both of which deal with the theme of Time.
It was C.S.Lewis in his book, The Abolition of Man, who said, “Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (’How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up and married! I can hardly believe it!’) In heavens name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal.” This immediately brought my mind to the book of Ecclesiastes where the poet reminds us that God has placed Eternity in our hearts that we should long for life beyond just our time here under the sun. Lewis went on further to say that this constant surprise at Time would be the equivalent of a fish being constantly surprised by the wetness of water, unless that fish were one day destined to be a land animal. This comparison is a bit unfortunate in that it has led people to argue that Lewis was a proponent of biological evolution, but I think that totally misses the point he was making. He wasn’t talking about the fish at all, he was talking about the Human and our relationship to Time. So, with that in mind, I wrote the poem Momentary after the end of a three year relationship that ended with betrayal and secrets and finally an abrupt end without closure or communication. I was feeling very much like all the time and energy spent in the relationship was a total waste (of course if you learn something from time spent, then it’s not a waste). It was this mood and reflection that I was in when I penned the poem. Here is Momentary from my book The Golden Road: Poems, Prayers, and Petitions on the Narrow Road to Freedom: