I don’t write poetry much these days. Poems were the first things I ever wrote as a little first-grader and I’ve been scratching verse ever since. But I’ve long since accepted I’m no poet. Nevertheless, the muse has struck and here’s one for the New Year. With it I say Happy New Year to all you wonderful, beautiful people. It’s no triviality for me to say that I love you, I love you all. Love is a revolution I’m scared of, of what it will require of me, of my cold narrow heart. But from my heart, I love you all.
Please take this poem as a broken token of my goodwill to you:
A New Year’s Plea for Good Work and Love in a World that No Longer Believes
Quiet, quiet, soft now, hush,
there’s no need to rush,
you can’t hurry what’s coming
and you can only harry your own shortcoming
so much before your rashness becomes a rash,
an itchy red glitch that can’t be scratched enough,
so slow, slowly now, slow!
Be quiet and craft and fuse and nourish
that primordial ooze in secret,
make it beautiful and irresistible,
or at least a thing you can be proud
to have broken your heart and mind upon,
don’t rush the finger-work, the wheeze and blow,
the pacing and returning, the hacking off,
the backing off and the circling back
to add and knead and knuckle and smooth.
This thing is worth it, worth the wait,
so slow! Slow yourself and know
that even angels long in pain, even eons-bright
celestials wrestle with the darkness
of unknowing, of brittle finitude,
the frustration of the wide-winged and many-eyed
who can only soar as high as their imaginations
and find their imaginations are tiny tinny cells
and not the cathedral vaults they had thought.
And don’t forget love – don’t you dare!
Throw every scorching, spike-whipped,
and hungry ambition at love’s consuming altar.
There is nothing else. Or rather, all else is in this.
You will break and break and burn to fading embers
if you do not learn this supple steel truth and bow
to its ecstatic mastery. Ah, yes, they’ll tell you it’s not
real, not really, that love’s a cheat, a genetic idol
we made because we were afraid to be pointless.
DON’T LISTEN! Or rather, listen and reject,
rebel, resist, defy, refuse to bow to the lie
for lie it is, do not be fooled – don’t listen to your heart,
for goodness’ sake don’t do that, don’t give ear
to that little cheater, incurved self-beater, ravenous
other-eater, it has a good thing to say, but that word’s
buried in crap-caked layers of foxy obfuscation, no,
listen instead to the ontic ambient! The scarlet thread
of the real can still be felt even in all this crushing dark
for those who care to feel it – but if not, then go
your way and live and list for what you will and,
rushing or patient, see what it amounts to if it is not
for love, love not as we’ve been sold, but as it is,
for it is, whether we can fathom its naked blaze or not,
not our little nudities and crudities but a gory glory polite
folks should never name. As for me and my darksome house,
we will try, at least try, at least make a go, one or two
of us maybe, to die, or die trying to die in crucial agony
underneath the heliotropic kiss of Logos Lips in hopes
of a kavod-bod for each and every skeleton that dances
on the empty graveclothes of a Myth who persists in being
a Fact we fear to meet, even as we hear the glad approach
of feet refurnished in a furnace we cannot factor into a
universe denuded of all that’s eluded us for so long we no
longer long for what’s lost and declare there is no lost or found,
only ground and sky and sense even as these ontic oddities
ensconce us in yearnings we do not understand – but soft,
soft! Do your lovely work that no one sees and cry your tears
that no one wipes away, for if you do not believe in love, I believe
in you anyway and the wonder-sloshed entity you are and
the truly valuable good-goop you shape and make every day.
Please try, just try, a little, just a little, to believe in me too
even as you hate and fear me on blink-instinct, let’s fight it
off together this year, this year I declare a war on all
disbeliefs in love and declare it the year of Love’s Roar,
the year of Love Rampant, the Year of the Love-Beast!
(Or the year you hear its clawing and pawing at your door at least.)
(All images © Flannery O’Kafka)