Once, you made a promise to a lonely man.
You took him out into the twilight,
And lifted his eyes to the swirling crush of galaxies.
“Your children will outnumber the stars.”
His gaze swept the heavens-
Multitude pinpricks of light-
Until his eyes were filled with starlight and grateful tears.
I stand beneath that same darkened sky,
But the stars aren’t so visible anymore,
Overcome by lights of our own design.
The promise is dim.
One star burns above, alone,
And I wonder if this might be
You wanted me to be an open book to you
You wanted me to lay bare my pages for your perusal
To be picked up and casually browsed
Book-marked and dog-eared
And in the end you were angry
That I was difficult, inaccessible
I’m not saying I’m a masterpiece
I’m no Hemingway or Steinbeck
But I can tell you this:
I’m not a synopsis
Not a CliffsNotes guide
No eighth grade reading level novella
I am difficult to grasp
Impossible to master
My words are fluid
My meter erratic
My lyric baffling
I am a mystery even to myself
And a hundred readings will not
Make me anything less
Oh if I could tether you
To me like the moon in orbit
If my gravity could draw you
Into a never-ending dance
Intoxicating and inexorable
Constant as galaxies
If our love had the lifespan of a star
Its radiance could blaze on
And once it had flickered out
A distant planet would still see its glow
Distant lovers would still meet under its light
Thousands of years after we had passed
We read to know we’re not alone.
I write to feel that I am known.
I wrote God’s name on my arm
In permanent ink, tattooed beneath my skin
But it’s only as permanent as this body
Which is dying day by day
So the commitment is not so long
The permanency doesn’t concern me really
Since God wrote my name on his palms
And his body is much more permanent
Telling me not to write
Is like telling the bird not to fly.
You’ll have to break my wings first.
The naming of things
is the chief aim of writing
To articulate the ineffable
feelings and thoughts of the secret soul
To gaze into the inscrutable workings
of the mind and heart
and to describe whatever is detected there
This is the essence of expression
The “why” behind the struggle
to put pen to paper
even when the words don’t flow easily
To put a name to something nameless
so I know what to call myself