Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The History of a Book

I love used books
with their crackling spines
and musky scent
their easily turned pages
and caressingly rough texture.

But most of all I love it
when there’s a name
written with care on the front inside cover.
Or when some handwritten note or dedication
remains like a precious artefact
speaking of another place, another time
some memory of a person I never met
some legacy of one I may never know.

I wonder where they are now
What kind of life do they live?
Do they have children?
Do they have a warm place to call their own?
Do their friends call them often?

I wonder what caused them to get rid of the book
Did it get accidently thrown in with garage sale items?
Did they grow tired of the words?
Or did it simply mock them from the shelf?
—Saying, You’ll never read me again
you never have the time to read anymore.

I wonder if perhaps they died
and the book was sold or given away
and passed from hand to hand
until it found its way into mine
to share with me some piece of that person’s life.

What influence did the book have on them?
Did it make them cry?
Did it make them angry?
Did it make them want to share it with the world?

I write my name
right below theirs
never crossing out the history of a book.
The book is mine now
but it will not always be.
It could pass down generations
leaving only the fading list of handwritten names
the yellowing pages
and the creases in the spine
as memories.

I hope that one day someone will pick up an old book
see my name
and wonder who I am.

Friday, April 15, 2011

His Legacy

They say he took his own life
Like she once tried to do
But where she was saved
By miracle or luck
(I’ll take the former)
He succumbed
To leave that everlasting question:


He passed on
Like we all must one day
Leaving too soon it seems, too young
Leaving children behind
Children old enough to have given him grandkids
But too young to have tried.
He passed on before that empty-nest-hope for grandkids could sneak in.
Yet she
Who once tried to take her own life—
She who got a second chance—
She lives and begins to feel that empty-nest-hope stir.
She lives and dreams and hopes and plans.
She works and suffers and fails and cries.
She calls her son at 1 a.m.
                                 With tears in her voice
                                                               Asking if he heard the news

He, who was close by after she met those bright unblinking eyes
                                           On top that unforgiving asphalt
He, who came on that horrible task to pick up her car
                                           Abandoned at the side of the highway
He, who came to talk to a baffled husband wondering
                                           What did he do wrong?—What signs did he miss?
He, who came to talk to a father with no way of explaining impossibilities
                                           To children confused and afraid
He, who offered to help in a situation most would flee from,
He, who waded into the incomprehensible mess of it all
And offered a warm hand,
Is gone.

His hand is cold and sapped of strength
He has left his family and this world behind
                                            But he is not dead.
For he was there for a man at the height of a freefall
A husband who had left all he understood behind
A father falling through thin air grasping for something that makes sense.
He was there for a family in the disarray of impossible chaos—
The impossible that somehow was
He reached out and was there.

And there he remains.
His legacy lives on
In the warmth of a father’s hands
In the tears of a mother’s eyes
In a son’s trust
In a daughter’s love
In the family he helped to heal
He lives on.

His death is still a heavy thing to bear
A weight too large to understand.
So shed your healing tears
And wail out your confusion—
The whys that heave out your chest—

But after the rawness passes
When the memories still remain
Remember he still lives in my family
And in all who he touched in their pain.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


They say, "love is blind"
Well so is hope.

Hope is blind.
Unafraid of darkness
Unperturbed by danger
Unmoved by failure
Hope is blind.

And there in the darkest night
There at the pinnacle of failure
There surrounded by enemies
Hope lives on.

Hope is defiant and lasting
And for as long as you hold on to hope
Hope holds on to you.

No tunnel goes forever
No valley or gorge is without bottom
Every ocean has a shore
And the sun will rise
For a million years more.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ne Me Quitte Pas

I was walking through a blasted grove
Of figs and berries burnt to ash
This land once full of green and growth
Now brought that memory down to crash.

And in that land of blackened pillars
That seemed a Hades temple cold
I saw a flash of white above me
Too bright for prematurely old

Eyes that squint against the gleaming
Inside a world that has gone grey
Oft miss a beacon’s guiding
When from the path their feet do stray.

And here despite my squinting wonder
I saw alight upon a tree
A dove as bright as morning’s splendour
And brighter still than memories.

And there I froze awake in awe
To see so near such beauty live.
Why his pause and hesitation
Where life so long had ceased to give

Its hope and splendour at its being
It seems now just a heavy weight
But yet that bird came down alighting
As if defying seems of fate.

And here he stays nearby beside me
Though he seems so out of place
He should for every ’visioned reason
Take flight from this our burning race

Perhaps because he came to meet me
In this unholy blasted waste
He may remain right here beside me
To guide me to a better place.

(Ne me quitte pas)
You’re all the hope that I could find.
(Ne me quitte pas)
Without you I’ll just wander blind.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

If I Knew That I Loved You

If I knew that I loved you
I would tell you in some grand ridiculous gesture
Something out of a Hollywood romance
Flowers and chocolate would not be enough
A dinner and a movie would seem too easy

No, if I knew that I loved you
I would write it in seven scripts
I would write them in seven places
Seven permanent locations around the world
Each continent would know my love for you

If I knew that I loved you
I would go on three quests for you
To the ends of the earth
To the bottom of the sea
To the very centre of your heart

If I knew that I loved you
No wall, minefield or gorge
No sea, mountain or stair
No cliff, army or void
Could keep me from getting to you.

But I don’t know if I love you,
I wonder and question and wait.
I don’t know if I love you
So let’s just get coffee at 8.