The Daily: 7 February 2023

I’ve had a few productive mornings during this miserable cold. Maybe I don’t sleep as soundly and the boundaries are thinner between wakefulness and dreaming. Whatever the reason, I wake with words already formed into poetry. Thought I might share a few.

under the fig tree

Image from
(and coincidentally exactly how i remember the fig tree in the garden of my childhood…
i’m sure it was never this huge, but to me, it was a whole world.)
she waits
in unwarded memory
vague notions of
girl under youth’s fig tree
small and solitary
bright and beckoning
boundless in the way of childhood

her face alight
at sight of me
‘let’s climb!’ she squeals
glad to have snagged a playmate
she leaps into leafy heights
then reaches down her hand
to help old body to follow

i take hers in mine
notice scars left by time
so young
yet so marked
the shoulders wary
the eyes unsure
the skin bruised and puckered

i take her slight hand
trace wrinkled finger on unlined flesh
i know this life-line
know more what she will yet endure
this bone will fracture
this smile will falter
this heart will break

i want to hold her
far from all time’s pain
leave her merry
under the fig tree
but for her eyes
and shoulders…
because she knows


Kenneth Branagh in his 1996 adaptation of Hamlet
should i stay or should i go…

that is the question
the plague of midnight hours
the dark flowers of whispered screams
and dreams of endless respite
but bright flames ne’er illuminate
the tenebrous gate of unbeing
and i dread the shedding of this me-ing
no map, no hand to hold it fast…
is this i worth the burden of its being

still, here i am
or that is the thought
but to not
to set out on paths untrodden
with boots cast off…
quite so

should i stay
to wish well the day that comes
only to sleep at its dawning
or should i go
but not to know
the potential of me
the fault in these stars redeeming
to not that
but dissolve in this streaming
joining flow and fury and fire and freedom
but not me-dom
that is the question

to be
or to undo me
that is the question…

the center did not hold

before the end
i once asked
— who do you see
when you look at me

your answer bred dismay
even as your eyes smiled
— the beautiful young girl
i married

and i thought
— what of all the time since
is there no mark of my life
written in soul or skin

but hindsight’s proven
this was the inflection
revelation of center quite un-held
the void that once was us
Photo credit: The Daily Star

And these both came from the same metaphor…

house of cards

i do not believe
in queens and kings
frail princesses
foolish knights
i do not believe
that many should labor for lifetimes
so few may preen and pose
gorging on the heart of the world
turning all to putrid waste
i do not believe in nobility
some peculiar grace the gift of gods
where are the deity-kissed now
faces on milk cartons
i do not believe
they ever were in once upon a times
i believe in firm foundations
lives lived in fairness and felicity
i believe in significance
memories and meaning made for all
i believe in warm bread
and merry children
i would not live
in these perilous towers of conceit
nor spend my days shoring up the base
i do not believe
in this quaking hierarchy
for i have seen one card
tear the whole tower down
so that all that is
melts into air

winter memories

winter is a memory palace
frail house of cards
stacked against the winds of change
bright holy days
long dark nights
shared intimacies of warmth
from food and laughter

were you there
looking out the rimy window
at these snow-shrouded gardens
coffee steaming up the glass
obscuring time

or did you pull a card
— brutal knave of hearts
killer of kings —
and topple this wholesome tower
releasing time and memory
to forlorn fluttering taters
riding the fury of the north wind
into oblivion

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