do you ever look back?
i admit it’s not too often i think much about where i was and how. (likely because i’m often caught up in the intricate mess of who i want to be in the present).

in the last few weeks i’ve moved house. and in the process things got shifted around. old things were pulled out from forgotten places, along with the grey fuzzed balls of dust. i stumbled upon an old manuscript of poetry – selections i had made and compiled as the ‘best of’ from the beginning to end of university (a 6 year span, interrupted by world travel and study outside my degree). and whoo boy!

even i’m surprised at how introspective and grueling some of the poetry was. it’s been an interesting look into my mental and spiritual space. at different points i blush, or am proud. the present me looks at the old me and shakes his head, now smiles tenderly, rolls his eyes, sighs.

beyond serving as sign posts for my spiritual and intellectual journey, the poems even more strongly highlight for me my progression as a writer. and this is probably most clearly where i can say “i’m thankful i’ve moved on from there.”

images mashed and contorted to fit ideas that billowed to abstraction. angst and hope on speed. but there are some gems, too. strong images. clear ideas. a few poems i want to rework and polish, pick away at with the most delicate pick-ax.

below is a sampling of scope – three poems that suggest some progression (likely never to be published elsewhere but here).  i thought i’d blog it as an exercise in self-positioning and humility.  a reminder and remembrance and spur for me:

At Mont-Saint Michel
written after a trip to France in 1997

Walls. Thick walls
of cement and brick
and bones
made by broken backs to fortify a village
to protect it from the crashing waves.
“Careful – the tide comes in faster than a running horse.”
Safety only from the outside
stones on stones, uncounquerable.
Hardly changed are the century’s old lanes and
alley ways that twist and retreat until they meet again,
merge into stairs,
then climb to the abbey.
The small chapel still smells of sack cloth.
Horses charge the shore and splash against the rocks.
Salty air tastes skin.
Oh look.
Look at the crack.
You didn’t expect to see a weakness in the wall.
A piece of stone cut out to peek at something
something imperfect but somehow
welcome.
Suddenly, it is human.
It smiles,
makes fun, and
defies the serious.
And there it is, frozen as a reminder before it Jezebels
toward the jagged cliffs,
before it is pulled away by retreating tides.

The smooth strokes of my Papermate
written in 2000 in Penang

how to keep track of a life as it runs out to other dimensions
breaking the regular plane
coming diagonally out of the page
thinking with a paper mate
familiar with its way
on the soft grain
striving for omniscient-detached
how to understand reading
a book
that is lived
of a character commenting on it
not being the author unattainable
unable to continue the plot
crumple

these words of life you form in me
written in red deer in 2002

these words of life you form in me

take shape of
always remembered
things

the soft whisper hits its mark
cuts through
every fragment
a violence
against the hardness of my heart

you quiet noise with song
you speak into the endless void
of silence

form such life in me

those words
seeds
organic, rooted
growing

renovate a heart of
hope in
me

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