Two poems I wrote, both pretty accessible: 1 for change; 1 for rickety love
Which way do I go?
Did I already tell you this?
It was when I visited you last.
Were you there the last time I visited you?
Or maybe it was the time before.
I think it was actually the time before that.
I was in the subway station, on the middle floor.
One set of stairs went down to the trains.
The other went up to outside.
I couldn’t remember if I should be going down
Had I just visited you?
Or was I on my way?
If I had visited you, it was past and I should go down because I was going home.
If I hadn’t, then my visit was future, and I should go up
and out, to see you.
I was stuck there, in the in-between space, trying to remember
figuring it out.
Up is future. Down is past.
Down has already happened.
Up is my anticipation.
My imagination begins to slip on a slick surface, as though my legs
stretch away from one another
It’s quite fascinating unless you’re actually trying to do the right thing,
I mean to go up or down
choosing past or future.
When I entered the room,
my father was there with all these photographs spread out on the table
He leaned over them.
I thought: he’s looking at the pictures of his family. How sweet.
“What’s happening, Dad? What are you doing?”
“I’m trying to figure out who all these people are.
I have some responsibility
I think I might even have to look after them.
But I don’t know who they are.”
Later, he was at a stop sign and he got tired of waiting
So he turned left, into the on-coming traffic.
If that happens to me, I’ll…
I don’t know.
Maybe I’ll be spared.
You gave me a birthday card,
slipped it through the mailbox while I was away.
It ends with the words “I remain committed,”
then your initials.
I feel the old engine of desire start to crank and turn its wheels,
steel scraping on steel,
a reluctant, screaming sound.
Engines don’t like to be left unworked for so long.
I imagine a smithy hefting the machine into action
using something impure and quickly hot,
stoked for rapid light and heat.
The engine works deep down inside the earth’s crust,
or deeper, inside my self.
Groaning, emitting sparks
that flash and die,
as the smithy,
my hopeless hoper,
stokes the fire:
Come on; come on.
My heart grinds.
Sparks, almost igniting, don’t.
A dark and profound fire might not, again, rekindle.
“Come on; come on.”
The machine which propelled our vessel, can it do it again?
“… remain committed.”
It was a terrible thing,
to leave the machinery of my love
shut off for so long.
Not long ago this heart could boat us across all inlets
until we were deep inside every urge.
And now… and now…
A dull sound sounds,
the engine failing, the spark ungoing and —
I call out: “Take it. Ignite.”
Leslie Hall Pinder