and when you kiss her goodbye
try not to think of that first moment
when your eyes met and you felt
your soul burst into flame,
spontaneous spiritual combustion
(that is only now ashes and wisps of smoke).
try very hard not to think of how
hard it was to say hello that first time,
to reteach your nervous mouth to form words,
because you were so stunned by the
sight of her, looking at you, coy and half-smiling,
patiently waiting as you sputtered and stared,
mouth open, straining to say hello.
and when you kiss her goodbye and
your lips part, breathe in that last shared
breath, don't hesitate, breath it in and hold it,
hold it in as long as your lungs will allow, because
once the warm west wind dispels it into the night,
it will never exist again, neither to be shared
nor to be hoarded in your pained chest.
everyone loved him, though he was
no gentlemen. everyone found him
entertaining, though he was often
temperamental, vain, childish, selfish,
and manic. when he was working, he
was a man possessed. when he
was at home, he was a man imprisoned.
when he was dallying with his kept
woman, he was no man at all.
he was the best of men; he was the worst of men.
i loved his books in my youth, reading them
feverishly, while my peers struggled.
i considered him the greatest, and wanted
to be a writer just like him. and now that
i am older, now that i know more
about the man he was, i feel a bit differently.
he is still the greatest, and i still love him,
but i don't respect him. and the more i learn,
the sadder for him i become.
dear boz--you poor, stupid genius.
in the dead fields of war, where
banners hung forlorn from broken
lances, a sparrow flitted from the treetop to
the gilded tip of a royal standard, still borne upright
by its dead keeper. the tiny beast fluttered
down to the ground, where the flag-bearer's
spilled blood splattered the sad earth and
speckled a white wildflower near his head.
the bird pulled the flower from the ground,
bloom and all, with its beak, and took flight.
the noble creature carried it up to the nest,
where its mate sat atop their first egg,
keeping it warm against the cool nightwind;
he offered his gift, which she accepted with
her sparrow's smile (an expression only known
to the birds of the air).
and sparrow's smiles
could still redeem the
silent, withered land.]