5 (tanka)

Rather than persuade
and impose my pride on you,
I would leave, losing
the humility that might
submit to your persuasion 

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A word in your ear…

I once hid myself, afraid;
until the heady rush of words was jammed
by a crime against the muse, committed to survive:
the stream of language dammed, damned, damaged in its course
to leave words languishing around my skull, staring from its windows
calling echoes down its aural spirals, striking out their balance – 

Words marooned in emptiness…
like fickle acolytes of lost idols, panicking unshackled
or liberated helots pining for some mastery to serve;
like nomads in the tracking chain lacking moral compass
or athletes drained of power then balance, grace and skill
… after the fall … the fall … all 

the mimic

I was unsure – of who I was, of how to live outside my home
and lacking adequate affect, while full of social awkwardness –
so I conformed.  The choice was stark but simpler than it seems
in that long ago. 

Thus marked, by birth or accident,
I took instruction, even study (to a point),
as my seeming deficit became a fabric of belief
and I self-censored, thickening my carapace
to grow in roles which made denial second nature;
learning how to walk without the hope of wings,
needing to avoid defeat, absent persuasion
in that yesterday. 

But of course I wanted to be right, so I admit:
there was collaboration.
I enjoyed the gravity of power that pulled me in its orbit,
compelling me to move eccentrically
until that shook my axles loose, spilling their bearings
as they ground my gears to fragments;   falling
beneath those asking, how it was possible to live
without a purpose – or an allegiance to one colour? 

Those true believers:  defenders of the faith, keepers of the flame,
held hostage to the dogma of their self-defeating doctrines
while tied by their taboos at a bridge too far for reason.
I scorned them even in my weakness – 

How much trouble that has caused me! 

The zealots came – as always –
draped in purity, to press their claims

~ which would erase our nuances,
reduce our subtleties to slates;
as if a blank could live

~ in which the glories of creation
would shrink to conceptual art,
like angelic voices ringing
locked in a crazy head

~ on roads too thin to travel far
as life was redefined, abjured
to strip it clear of heresies

like cockroaches.

You and I

I held you in my wallet, to keep you safe from harm
in a dimming store of memory, with our devalued currency
that was a little worn with use and age, but easy to access;

You formed an aperture into a version of our past, beyond revision
once framed by shutter speed, in silver salts or pixels /
or inked in composition, rolled out by the press /
or sketched in oils or charcoal strokes, brushed by human touch;
a fragment apprehended in a narrow view, blurred in shallow field…

At times I saw you looking back at me, caught in the act of looking,
reflecting both a composite (of me and you; of now and yesterday)
and composing a reflection, evoking thoughts and feelings
without asking or concerning how they could be requited;
or if that moment’s image was perfect or a lie, or something in between

Because you are not mine, or ours, or motion catching breath
but a subtle model, to represent reality;  a peeled-back flake of time
torn off the torrent in its flight and left with me to watch
while other things that were once new have aged in turn:
to become part of the fabric, then begin to fade away

While you remain, a tainted arrowhead lodged under my skin and
trapped against a nerve;  both a wound infected by the past
and a seed to germinate belief in never letting go…