“Your honest, sonsie face…”

innerwoven

Robert Burns, given his widespread fame (and infamy) to Scottish and English literary crowds in the eighteenth century, one would think him even better known than he is. He is heralded by an annual recognition of his life and work on this very day, January 25th. The great irony of Burns was the praise lavished upon him by both Edinburgh and London poshies despite his very tongue-in-cheek poetic invective against the same. He was after all a product of his era. A fiercely nationalistic Scottish socialist who wrote comical and approachable poetry for everyone. 

In honour of dear Mr. Burns, I post here one of his most famous works, “Address to a Haggis.” It is, in essence, a socio-political statement meant to solicit a laugh or two at the expense of those uppity French, and others, whose social delicacies were no match for the beefy Scots.

Enjoy, and happy Robbie…

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In the interest of recusing myself

In the interest of recusing myself

from the intentional acts of living in

salience and satisfaction,

I remove paper clips from bundles

and places of collecting –

days not yet taken,

things taken too often,

conversations unfinished,

gazes left unyielded to awe.

 

And I forget to wait.

 

In the interest of restraining myself

from the morbidity of beloved melancholy

I reach across heavens of tear-stained songs

and their owners, too shy to keep singing –

and touch the lips of those like me,

who might never have sung

were it not for those heaven-kissed notes.

 

And I forget to wait.

 

In the interest of reinventing myself

I recall to mind the person least reticent

to dance naked before the large window –

unblinking, shameless with wanton wit;

those long-wished for days not yet cast aside.

Not forgotten, merely unremembered.

A bold and chivalrous persona void of

the self-effacement unknown in our youth.

 

And I forgot to wait.

 

I never said

I never said the treetops would be

enough to hide the lost points on your map.

They might just join together long enough

to sing something jaunty for the trip.

 

I never said that all conversations

would tell you enough to end your doubts.

But they might plant some

new ones that aim for the same end.

 

I never said you’d always have great birthday

parties with candles enough to roast popcorn.

But, with each new year, another candle brings

you that much closer to salting the world.

 

I never said the laws of nature would always

accommodate your need to experiment with pride.

But, neither did I say they were obvious enough

not to take you where you most want to go.

 

I never said the distances were short between

laughter and pain, burden and light.

But there will never be a better time to convince

you of your own staunch goodness.

 

I never said that you’d find the thing

you’d been looking for.

I prayed you have one more day to meet

your fears in the pursuit.

 

I never said I wouldn’t disagree.

Just that I’d always engage.

I never said I’d always remember.

Just that I’d regret the forgetting.

I never said you wouldn’t rage against the world.

But it just might hear your voice.

I never said I’d never leave you.

I said you wouldn’t always need me to stay.

I never said I’d never say such things.

For I am you.

Soon, but not yet.

Thanks, Laura Jean Truman.

innerwoven

As you have seen, I am a fish on the shore right now, flipping and gasping for words to write. About anything. I’ve learned at these times to read until my eyes fall out. Others are not in this place. They’re producing page-turning material worthy of my consumption and consideration. 

One such soul is fellow blogger and faith-er, Laura Jean Truman. In a writer cop-out for which I seek neither escape nor make neither excuse, I share her better words here. Go, read in pride as I did, how Advent is a time uniquely prepared for both the prophet and the artist. For the artist-as-prophet.

They speak the same language. Maybe that’s why so much of the bible is poetry? Yup. I think that’s probably it.

Laura Jean, thank you. My readers will too, I believe.

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Arrivals

The soup is better having room to steep

in the deeper time of its own goodness.

Many things unite in one great thing.

We learn hunger.

 

The ground, now patched and sown together

with summer’s glowing refuse, is somehow brighter –

having taken its time.

We learn beauty.

 

Her pleasure, no fait accompli, 

but in a reverence for slow heights.

Climb slowly this peak.

We learn desire.

 

Her tiny immensity, a sacred squalor, protrudes

nose first, dark to light, damp and cold –

one last hurrah of anonymity before donning

the first breaths of vulnerability.

We learn awe.

 

Pulled nose first into the warmth

of kitchen bread, newly plump and rising to greet us

square in tongue and tonsil, teasing

and teaching the crust-browned life.

We learn perfection.

 

Shoes, worn and well-gravelled, grind away

at the miles. A distance made less with repetition –

repetition of repeated renewals of the long

overcoming of road.

We learn perseverance.

 

And, in all of it remains the best of all our waiting.

One arrives, caught in the minutiae of the cosmic unseen.

Here to surprise our own expectations.

Come to convince us of lost remembrances.

The one great beauty in our catalogue of fear.

We learn salvation.

I am not as old

On the occasion of my fifty-fifth birthday.

____________________

No, I am not as old as

the wilting membrane of earth –

the skin of her secrets, too tightly

breast-held and leaky.

 

No, I am not as old as last

winter’s back-porch bread crumbs,

now frozen in cracks of concrete

and flaking paint.

 

No, I am not as old as the clock,

heavy in memory and fingerprints –

evidenced in her calloused hands.

 

No, I am not as old as the long-

faded colour now framing the painting’s

place – a reminiscence tucked in

a reminiscence. The irony of old beauties.

 

No, I am not as old as the tales and

fables, born wild and then loosed

in the telling, fermenting into 

many-tongued song.

 

No, I am not as old as the coughing

farm truck, grizzled metal and clogged

arteries, belching orders under

a hollow back, still unbroken.

 

No, I am not as old as the cathedral

stone, serenely quiet in the preachy

way of ancient things always new.

 

I am just old enough to love, and

to start again.

On Writing a Memoir, Part III

Recently published on my innerwoven site…

innerwoven

It is an odd thing, this whole memoirishness. 

poets-pen.jpegTo read a memoir is to sit in someone’s living room drinking beer and eating Cheetos as someone outlines plans to save the world, or at least make it a little less shitty.

Except for a few cases, their stories are rarely intended for their own self-aggrandizement. Instead, they act as a window, a prism of sorts that divide up a fully lived life into its constituent parts for our amusement and awe. Once we happen upon these parts, it is for us to find ourselves within them.

Although not entirely without a modicum of gravitas, I am embarrassingly unknown. A small-town guy writing for other little guys, but with a tale to tell. What I can offer is a fireside tale told by a friend you just haven’t met yet. A regular guy with a story for other non-luminaries out there.

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