Monday, August 20, 2018


I received a book of poems from an old friend, Douglas Messerli. It's titled "Stay", a lovely word, and one rich in associations--from the command I give my dog, to the invitation to a friend or loved one not to leave, a plea. It's a pleasant overnight at a favorite inn, a stiffener in a Victorian lady's corset... For Douglas, it's surely all of these and more; more being, perhaps, a place to rest in contemplation of what he loves and what he has given his life to, poetry. Reading his poems, these words came to me:

What are these? Love
poems? Yes! Tributes to those
whose words still haunt you, those
whose words you love, whose words
seep through the muddied brain,
and puddle into luscious pools
of sometimes “meaning,”
sometimes pure reflection...
Riddles? Yes! (Which is one other
word I love). Their puns and rhymes
play tricks on me, though only
in the nicest way. Or are they,
otherwise, uncharted voyages 
into the troubled backwaters 
of heart and mind—yours? 
mine?—whose puzzles ask, 
insistently, and yet refuse to be 
teased out in that old search
for who-I-am. So, yes, again,
that too. I laugh with them,
out-loud, and weep at moments
when it seems appropriate. 
“Appropriate.” That word
does it. As a verb, I mean:
You take from others what
they mean to mean when
saying what they say. Mostly,
though, as always, it’s the heart
that matters, when you catch
its painful and exhilarating
throb. The heart’s heart. Not
only what you take but also 
what you give, in generosity. 
I end up enviously, wishing that
I still wrote poems, as you do.

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