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It’s concealed in a labyrinth

It’s concealed in a labyrinth 
Today I awoke in a box,
my reflexes tame
in a world grown utterly typical
Memories of dreams and
memories of what’s real
can feel the same

Don’t ask my lover to explain me
She understands me less
than I understand myself
Like a mysterious and implacable
externality all boxed in, what we 
herald, announce and see depends  
on how we polish and set our lens 

Mrs. McDermott,
my third grade teacher,
explained to the class one day
“Peter is tardy because, in walking
to school this morning, Peter lost his way”
There should be a special place in hell
for those who injure children

Something distinctly noble
blends in with what’s base in
our conduct
Catty academics, for example: 
“There’s early Wittgenstein, there’s 
late Wittgenstein and then there’s
Professor Finch’s Wittgenstein”

Once the waters free the unencumbered
river flows easy, full of grace
I never pretended to be so fatherly
That was your fantasy
“Is that all there is?” I’d ask, “Is that it?” 
When Matt had a $100 in his pocket
he’d be confident

So he wasn’t upset that hot fall day
as he went on the train alone to Syracuse,
not quite 18, to be a freshman at the University 
“Mom gave me 100 bucks so 
I knew I’d be okay”
We take some elements of personality from
our parents and others we must create 

An old lion like me needs to dream
When grandma got older and a little
more deaf she’d hum to herself
I’m not sure she even heard herself 
I also don’t know why a little phrase
from Faure’s song “Lydia” repeats
itself in my brain— I know

no one named Lydia (never did)
and I don’t remember the French lyrics
Just that little turn of phrase
delights me now as I think of how
grandma used to hum to herself
Why this song and not some other?
I know many fine songs 

Gene cried deeply at Mom’s funeral because
her like would never come his way again
I felt that way too but my bitterness,
my tears, stayed with me
There’s a certain incuriosity brought 
about in time and it can become hard
to tell the truth from trash in the mind

If we believed in heaven then we might fear
the wrath of the dead—all the miserable things
we said and felt about them, how we miss them 
But none of us believes in heaven
And it’s not because they’re dead
that our affections for them will grow faint—
It’s because we ourselves are dying

-October 8, 2016-