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What Can Be Given

Over newspaper headlines that tell us
our most elite are mad, peering up to field gruff
breakfast-table monosyllables from faces
that, when next one looks up,
have become grim subway or bus or freeway
faces, realizing, before these crazy mirrors,
how many years or lifetimes have passed since last
we said anything real to anyone, in a spasm
of disgust, we slight the immensity of love
it takes to go on being here, keeping the lawn
trimmed, obeying red and orange and green lights,
worrying and snarling and swallowing
things we forget to taste, just to keep
the game alive, in hope...

no, not hope,
but dim knowing of something in
and around us that is touched
by hills, birds, people on buses,
sun brushing gold over a gray stone wall,
leaving us ready (for an instant that evades us)
to write great flowering poems
to trumpet us from our sullen sleep--

a knowing that, we sense, will shine
if shared, so we try to tell someone,
are misunderstood, grow earnest, then
annoyed, frustrated, enraged, at last
apathetic. One tries to give it
to someone who doesn't want it, not yet,
not that way, and tenderness turns to
these stones that were our eyes.

Each is a delicate balance, siding
with the dull ember of knowing left to us
against the force of our own decisions
not to know how we have failed one another and ourselves,
failed to be magic. When someone tries to tell us
too much more than we let ourselves know,
the alien knowing merges with the force
of our ignorance, threatening to extinguish us
unless repulsed.

Failed to be magic,
settled for soporific business as usual,
seriousness of survival, the beautiful
sadness of knowing (rather than remember
our failures) our limitations, proud
of our maturity, solid, well-adjusted!
Without art, to remind us we can create
new games, love threatens the rules,
must be destroyed, lest all games cease.

A poet must sneak inside your heart
and speak from there to get away
with saying anything true, not
what the poet knows, but the next thing
you are ready to know you know.

Love would give everything, but love
is not enough, becomes a far-off howling
in a waste of spurned love,
unless there is art, which is knowing
what can be given, received and returned.

Copyright © 2009 by Dean Blehert. All Rights Reserved

Last Updated: February 21, 2009