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I have a great temporary gig in which I monitor students as they take online tests. I selfishly have been able to mine this time for my own purposes. Being confined to this time and this place has been like a nest in which ideas come to roost, and I birth them into poems.
It feels like raised consciousness. It feels like I am living a poetic life, seeing layers of meaning in the everyday. It has to do with being forced into this empty space — needing to keep my attention on the students, but also needing to be stimulated. Some of the time, I am waiting for the next group of students. I keep a little sketchbook with me, and lately, I’ve been grabbing, jotting down, and capturing, these little poems, mostly haiku, to sort out the random thoughts that come to tease my attention. I took the bait, and wrote these poems — written in the first two hours of my workday.
Poem 1 — It started with the drive to work in the morning:
Stuck in traffic
The palm trees shivering in the breeze
The clouds, pastel-tinged, hovering
Over the ocean
Dripping its soft shade
Onto the wet, gently-rippling surface.
On the side of the highway
Because I’m crawling by,
I see that my dentist has moved to a new location.
It’s not my choice
That I’m stuck in traffic
But it is my choice
It feels like happiness
But I know that's not the word I want
It's like this realm, this place
that I sometimes tap into,
and want more of.
I feel it when I am enthralled by the sight of butterflies
or fairy terns in their aerial dance above me
or when the sky is filled with amazing cloud formations
Every so often as you go through life
You come to a crossroad
It's that fork, that intersection, you have to face
And you're not quite sure where to go.
You do this weighing on the one hand this
And then, that's on the other hand.
You listen to friends who you can trust
And you hope to finally understand.
Love is logical
It makes sense
Two people attracted by mutual energies
And you experience together
And you want it not to end.
So you declare love for the beloved.
Why doesn't it last then?
Why is it so hard to find
Fear is illogical
Fear is anti-love
Fear causes you to question
Whether or not you deserve this blessing
Whether or not your beloved deserves you
Whether or not there is another better
illusory lovearound the corner
There will be challenges -
Working through trials,
Time and again
But if love is good
For the most part,
Then why not choose love
Choose to love one another.
I have kept this poem, found doing spring cleaning, since 1979. I know this date because Quest/79 is in the footer on the page from which it was clipped. All my life, I have pondered this question about being in happy isolation from the world, or being an explorer of the world. Islanders deal with this tension a lot, do I stay or do I go? As an adult, a lot of who you are is defined by this choice that you make. My play, Island Space, was about this tension.
In the right light,
even the brown weeds
overgrowing on the side
of the highway
And don't forget
the purple flowers
that fall to the grass in May,
earning the name
the custodians use,
You do not travel this world unclothed
Upon your coming
You are bestowed with gifts of finery
And as you grow, you are dressed
Think of this clothing as treasure,
Not to be hoarded but shared
Yet not to be squandered
Vulnerable to theft.