[I wrote this poem earlier this month and read it for the first (and so far only) time on October 7th at Poets’ Hall in Erie, PA.  If I worry too much about what people might read into my creative writing (there’s often room for immense misinterpretation), I might never post another poem or blog.  So here it is.]

Change You Can Believe In

1. finding a beginning

giving you your freedom
is one of the scariest things
i’ve found courage enough to do

we came together 
for change at bur oak park
found beauty
in the earth
and each other
and meant very well

and yet
while so many things were full
something was hollow

if change was saying hello
i felt as though i could not 
hear it clearly
maybe too much
expectation
or expectoration

days later some of the fullest lines
i recall are jack mcguane’s
about how 100 thousand
poets for change
will change
nothing
until one poet
is willing
to change
everything

he should know
that day he helped
change everything

and i found i
could not hold on
to everything the same
as it was anymore

giving you your freedom
feels almost impossible
which makes sense
since it’s not even mine to give

intense growing pains me

i couldn’t hold on to you
the same as it was anymore
even if it meant you wouldn’t
be here for me
and i knew i couldn’t 
live any longer in the false
need for possession
and i couldn’t hold on
to the need to construct
a perfect impression
even if i don’t believe
an imperfect one exists

i had to just let jealousy be
deal with my fear to feel it
and let you be free
even if it at first it feels akin 
to tearing a lung
from my chest

i know this is best
because

anymore change
for the sake of change
doesn’t mean so much
since everything changes
every moment anyway
and there’s not much 100
thousand or even 100 million
poets can do about it
besides learn
not to fear it
and when to hear it
and how to let it roll
and not always need
to control it

i imagine a steering
wheel in each individual
and i no longer believe
in the change 
that comes
with my hands
and maybe yours 
on others’ wheels
twisting them 
toward destinations 
we think best
blithely confident
that my or our direction
requires only connection
never correction
though I’m looking in
through someone
else’s windshield
leaving my own
wheel unattended
often in others’ hands

2. beginning again after taking children to school

i needed that break
from this poem to remind me
that though i want
to say what i said
i got away from saying
what i first wished to say
which is simply
i love you

i wonder why
we feel a need 
to define love or who
because i don’t believe
love is a cartoon 
we need to draw lines around

i love you
and i love you even more
and love makes the world better
and since you love me too
the world is better still
and if you love your children or dogs
or best friend or just your neighbor
or someone else

but now we’re back to that
and the jealousy returns
and the urge to possess
which i mistake for need
makes me lean
toward tightening my grip
lest you slip from my grasp
because i don’t like loneliness
and i want to be loved
and maybe if you love someone else
he’ll be more important than me
and you won’t love me anymore
like mom loves my brother but not me
or loves one of her grandchildren
but not the other three
or loves ice cream
but not coffee and candy

wait
i’m wrong
i know very well
she loves them all
and you’ll know it
the moment you step through
her door and see her love 
makes the world better
and the ability to see
and love love
even when I might 
not seem to be
its immediate object
makes the world better too
makes me not want
to fight over you
makes me not want
to fight to win
an illusory victory
but simply love
and begin
to love again
and love you
again and again
and love you
loving again
if it comes to that
and it’s hard
because it’s not
what I learned

growing up

and though letting go makes me feel insecure
i don’t want fear to steer me anymore
while my hands are preoccupied with this
or that wheel outside myself

3. every moment a beginning

this is mine
and yours
love
hardly separate
together and apart
ready or not
let’s

*

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