There are a million poems
I need to write
to undo the pain
I have caused the world.


A raw exercise in purgation?
Writing as an act of self-revelation,
contemplative purification?
Struggling to find
words that equal


Who I mean by ‘the world’
is not them, but you.
I would rather have hurt
a faceless multitude
than the one whom
I love the most.


And even then…
even if I managed
to write 60 poems a day
for 50 years,
what good would poems do?
Heal the world (i.e. you)?
Heal me?


They might.
Right now, it’s the only hope I have.
The only tool I can adeptly wield.


What if, instead of writing a million,
I wrote just one?
The Granddaddy of them all.
What if it was so good
each word emitted beams of light
and the Earth shook
as you read it
causing your inheritance of pain
to scale off?


What if it was that good?
Would it make a difference then?
Would it erase the effects of trauma?
Flush the excess cortisol?
Create happy neurons?


There’s a chance it would.
A one in a million chance.


Here’s what it maybe could do.
Maybe…it could give
concrete shape to
an amorphous grief
allowing us to either bury it,
or release it to the wind
like we did Grandmother’s ashes
leaning over the bridge
whispering goodbye.


When we can hold something
out in front of ourselves
we see it as a separate entity
as something that can be let go of
more easily than can a feeling
or mental image—inside parts with
which we are irrevocably enmeshed.


This sense of separateness
of being untangled
can rid our throats of acid
lift the barbell from our chests
and help us understand
the art (or mania) of releasing
an embodied burden.


In the shadow, it is different.


When quarantined
in our silent, deep places,
pain is like a cinder block
tied to our ankles in the mud.
It forbids movement.
It lords power over us
shaking its finger with vitriol,
enticing us to the precipice.


We cower under its psychic blackmail.
Walls close in around us.
We cannot breathe.
Everything is chaos as we run
corner to corner, spinning.
When will we explode?
Because isn’t that how
this kind of bedlam ends?


Maybe it doesn’t have to.
Maybe there is another possibility.


We can write it out.


When we write our trauma,
we expose it to the light
and there is a chance
that wasn’t there before.
A chance the air
will dry the hulky weight
and transmute it
into crystalline flakes
swirling like cereal
in our beaded alms bowls
when we stand
in a field of lilies
blessed by peace of the juniper rise
lifting our arms to the sky.


When that day comes
we will watch the behemoth’s
desiccated fragments
fly away in the wind
becoming indistinct
among asperitas clouds
then disappearing
almost uneventfully
leaving a parched echo in our mouths
our lungs half-full
hearts half-empty
How long before I start to feel lighter?
Before I start to feel alive?


This best of all possible outcomes
has a mere outside chance
of happening.
But without poetry,
there is no chance at all.


Through the written word,
we muse:
How pure must we be
to be redeemed?


Redemption is, by definition,
reserved for those of us
who have caused pain
and want to heal it,
which makes it a perfect goal
for me
in relation to you.


The only question now is:
What action is required of me,
the yearnful penitent?
To write a million poems?
Or just one?


Either way, I’d better get busy.
Everything hinges on my
lyrical verse written
in search of that pristine state of newness.
Pulling out the shadow
and waving goodbye.


Read this poem, Baby.
Read it silently as a prayer
and out loud as a sermon.
Let it sink in
so you know how much I love you.


This nirvanic love is so diffuse
so root, so core
it can somehow (I don’t know how)
heal your brain
and lead you to fulfillment,
to freedom from the warped thundercloud
that has oppressed you
for so long.


Yes. I had better get to work.
Redemption is out there to be found.
For me, for you.
But first, I must write It:
The Granddaddy
Of. Them. All.


(c) 2018