Elegy for two lives

In my mind’s lens, my father’s
Face is smooth and petrified
Like an ancient lake
Steeped in mountains

It’s true, isn’t it,
There can be only one infinity
This is impossible:
Life without limits

Moons exist for no one
Though everyone thinks
They’re just
For dreaming

Question, they say, all of it,
Take nothing as given,
Give nothing up, erase all
Boundaries, be eternal.

He tried, and I tried after him.
Only we didn’t know
His freedom was my razor wire,
My freedom was his failure.

A face, tall

a face, tall, engaging
flickers in and out
of consciousness
strong and fragile
here and gone,
all the years and minutes
piled up against the door,
a window not open,
just cracked, the strain
too much

for a poor sparrow of a man
to peck at like some lonely
grass filled afternoon
misted edgewise into memory
out of reach, out of reach

these years have brought me here
I can’t say it’s much to look at
but here I am, regretting
nothing and everything at once

and still…
that face

Traces

Sometimes I follow ancient
trailing wrinkles, vague traces
of paths untaken, no use
to anyone now
after all the promises
have spilled out through
careless whim, unforeseen
swirls of hope and fury
all hung up to dry without regard
to logic or poetry

The crones of darkness linger
beneath a pointed finger, no singer,
but a low murmur, a thin skulking
wink of a man

Sometimes I sit in an empty room
with a bell and ring it,
trying to pinpoint the moment
it stops its waning tone.

That’s how a life is

But Memphis ain’t no ‘count

“But Memphis ain’t no ‘count,”
they’ll say. Maybe
what they don’t like
is this: Memphis
don’t go shufflin’ ’round
to the back door
hat in hand.
She just walks right up
to the front,
through the door,
and throws her hat
on the hallway tree,
where it spins a couple of times
before settling in.

So long ago

A poem written six years ago.

So long ago,
I got to know him well,
Always reaching, always looking
For a reason to keep living,

Even knowing
How alone we all are,
How he lived inside his head
Where no one could see the struggles,
No one could know how wrong they got it,
How, even he, in the end,
Gave up hoping for it
To change somehow,
Went from telling us how
To simply asking why.

Well, it’s a fair question, that.
Only, there can never be
An answer, no matter
How hard we stare
At the universe, demanding.

The universe only stares back,
Blankly.

Why had God forsaken him?

Why had he been so deluded
To think it would be different

From fear,
From loneliness,
From deception,
From illusion,
From cheap deliverance,
From intoxication,
From imagination?

Sitting and listening
To the sirens at night,
I imagine a million of them,
An endless stream of Jesuses
Asking the same question.

Why