More Poems

 

from Advice for Me and Maybe You

this thing you’re doing

 

right now it’s called

life

 

what thing? this?

 

yes

We want to fall in love.

We want to

be loved, to have

someone

fall

in love with us.

 

It’s always someone else

that we want

to love us.

Always someone else we want

to do what we won’t.

 

That’s like saying, “Come on in,

the door’s locked.”

In the Gospels,

the word

in the original

Greek that English-

men translated as “sin”

did not mean sin.

 

It meant “to miss

the mark” as when

in Homer, a spear curves

off target.

That’s all.

 

There was another

Greek word that meant

sin. It was not used.

 

Christ did not speak of sin.

He spoke of missing the mark.

He wasn’t fierce about morality.

He was fierce about turning

from error.

 

Be fierce about turning

from any thought

that says you are not loved.

from The Morning I Married the Sky

may i walk with

 

may i walk with

the unapologetic

gait of the donkey

in pasture at once

purposeful and easy

as he flicks

his ears to drive off

flies

when i rounded the corner 
 

when i rounded the corner 
an expanded empty 
paper shopping bag 
was tipping back 
and forth in the road 
like a sow that couldn’t 
get up but after sorting 
through mail on the front 
steps i turned again 
it was doing cartwheels 
towards the intersection

Shackleton’s Men

 

 

i listened with a mixture

of disdain and wonder unsure

how to judge

these mad men who ventured

with Shackleton in wooden ships

for hundreds of days through

fields of ice, faces

swollen with frostbite,

limbs black and weak

from scurvy, bickering

in the wake of each

implacable rebuff,

while the great war ate the world,

and all for no reason

except to be first

to cross the snowy crown

of the planet and even then

they failed

 

until at the end i heard that one

of the men—his name

was Richards—

said he had no regrets

 

“it was something,” he said,

“the human spirit accomplished.

it was something

you tried to do.”

 

from Free this Morning

in this ramshackle

 

 

in this ramshackle

neighborhood

of small houses

the jay loops

from a wire to alight

nearer the pole

then hops

a wire up

while another

squawks

like Whitman

they don’t care

they don’t care

they don’t care

then they fly

beyond my life

the tree said this

 

 

the tree said this

is what I do. I

sing, I cas-

cade up—

a child’s project

made at school of green

felt and wire.

I’m the surf exploding

against the sea-rock, only

this branch

droops away

from the others. I hold

my hands

like this

 

I do it for you

 

if you want.

I do it

skyward

and outward.

 

I do it exactly

like this.

every day i write

 

 

every day i write

my book. well,

i say i’m writing a book

but really i’m trying

to build a house

to prove to my father

that i’ve accomplished

something

i’m really laying twigs

on other twigs and backing

carefully away

 

and yes, there’s a scrap

of satisfaction,

a tiny feeling

of having justified

myself for another day

when i rise from the couch

i write on

 

being twig-built, though,

the house tends

to collapse at the slightest

wind, like the hint

of disapproval in

a stranger’s voice, and then it’s back

to an empty lot

 

sometimes though i’ll stop

and look out

the window

while i’m supposed

to be writing

and let myself be carried—

 

 

by sun, by air, by distant

sounds, or the impossible

change in direction

of a bug in flight—

and float

 

downstream

past mansions built

by invisible hands

each empty and waiting

for me to move in

 
© 2018 by Chris Dingman