Reflections on Massachusetts Ave, 7/23/18

It’s so fucked up
This culture
People with rucksacks walking there
Like There is someplace to be
As if here is never enough.

Right here!

Can’t you see what’s right here!

A tree some soul planted
Maybe from a seed or a sprout
Has grown up
Having found the sun.

A woman runs by
Exercising
Ear buds in her head holes
That could,
If she were still enough,
Hear a bird in the city, singing.
But no.
No!
She is talking business
Instead of just sweating.

Here!
Here! I tell you
The place to be
Right in this spot.

Don’t move
For a minute.

And see
And hear

And be.

Forget all the stones stacked up
Neat as can be
Organized like Earth never imagined.
A monument to nothing.
A dwelling for no one
We know.

Here
Hear
See
Now.

Greece
Vietnam
Philippines
Korea
Latvia
Turkey
Romania
Ireland

Water drunk from plastic.
Lifewtr. Purified.

In each, a stream
Asking us to drink it
From our open palms
Living, pure.

A bronze Gandhi
Walks. Frozen.
On watch. Who
Will wake,
Walk with him
To collect salt?

Swim Inside My Words

“I want to swim in your words,”
She says and
An ocean opens inside me.
I have to pause,
As one should,
Just before testing the surf
To look with awe at the horizon.

But I will get to those words,
Later,
The depths of which takes time to expose.
Let us linger here in the echo
Of waves powerful enough to move
The rocks that make up our earth.
How do these waters hold us with such force?

“I want to swim in your words,”
She says.
At the waters edge I dig a hole
To make a pool.
My bucket filled with sand
To reclaim land elsewhere
On the island.

Speaking of pools,
Walk with me
On broken granite slabs
To where the tide collects
Life we can name
From depths now exposed
To the sun:

Sea anemone
Starfish
Sea cucumber
Snails
Seaweed
Swim inside my words
Past the horizon.

Photo: Me, San Diego, Ocean Beach

You’ll Never Be Alone (for Bobby)

Son
Today with oil, water and breath
I watched the priest
Open the soul of a boy
To God.

As
Mine
Was
A long time ago
And many sins past.

Now, let’s watch the gulls
Take flight from the bay
And ask them
What water tastes like in the rain
And ask them
What air feels like in the wind.

But until:
Your mother’s arms will hold you.
Strong arms.
They’ll support you wherever you fly.

I’ll be here watching the gulls
Listening to the sea’s song
Singing along with words made up
From scattered broken shells
And worn out stones
Awaiting you.

I will drip the oil
I will share my water
I will breathe for you
Until you fly back
Into my arms

And open
Up
My soul
Once again.
Son.

My reading:

Last year I ran a series of poems in response to songs by my favorite band, The National, never finishing their back-catalog. To rectify this situation, I turn to their under-rated self-titled album and perhaps their most beautiful song: “Son”. My response is dedicated to my oldest child and is titled after the line, “You’ll never be alone”.

Please enjoy.

The song:

The lyrics

Son
Songwriters: Aaron Dessner / Bryan Devendorf / Matthew Berninger / Scott Devendorf

And if you follow me, son
The wind’ll wrap around you
Carry you from the ground
You will never be alone

Your weight will turn to sunlight
That’s falling on a girl
You’re still inside the world

She’s reading books from empty women
They’re giving beauty tips from empty hips

[Chorus]
And how is the water of the rain
And how is the air of the wind
And how are the arms of your mother
She’s holding you in

Watch them as they try to fly their kites inside their bedrooms
That were only built for drinking
Your thoughts, they never lasted long when you were under the sky
Above it you can hold a thought forever

[Chorus] x2
She’s holding you in
She’s holding you in

Son lyrics © BMG Rights Management US, LLC