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Primitive gifts

Primitive gifts make power
flow from the invisible to
the visible—Wars are won not
by the best stuff but by those
with the most stuff—The essentials
about us are not our mastery and
all of our traumas are private

She gave you cheap trinkets
and thought “that ought to suffice”
I’ve faced death three times—
once in the ocean, once in the
street and once under the surgeon’s
knife—“In these fraught days
wolves roam free in our streets”

Payback, punishment, restoration
of balance—proclamations of distress
become the essence of suffering
Empathetic, loving, caring
but without naiveté, he was
no mark for the unscrupulous,
the devious, the hateful

In a court of law perception
is everything and who wouldn’t
want some dark-eyed careless girl
to decipher for us all a world that
is, in so many ways, beyond us? Does
a spiteful wolf ever tell the truth about 
anything? Sense is what words

signify, optimism is his buoyancy
and his pessimism scours the depths
Why summon the dead when it’s us
and not them in turmoil? Rigorous,
vigor when you lack the sense to qualify
it all, every description theory laden,
in fear of earth’s desolate oblivions

What we fear most is extinction,
of course—He wouldn’t play chess
because if he was going to work so
hard he thought it best to accomplish
something beyond our ruthless
opportunism and bloodlust
“I was hoping there’d be more

good times with him but a
terrible, awful thing happened”
He had to find his own way
that ugly man who answered
the door and refused to speak
French to me (so much was his
hatred of Napoleon) because

what he needed to know
couldn’t be taught—that is,
exceptional strength, powers
of endurance, suffering and
animal toughness—He never
really saw that one tyrant at all
but glanced at him only once

in a momentary blurred vision
The cunning pleasure we take
in our own minds’ tenacity, the
layers of cant under which we
conceal our viciousness, can barely
protect the childish in me, the
abiding sweetness that loves you  

-February 22, 2020-