After spending an evening on the beach in Wilmington N.C., I came back to the room I was renting from a chemist while starting grad school and I wrote this poem.  I know I was influenced by the fact that I was far from Oklahoma and have always had this inner longing to really connect to and understand people.  In addition, I enjoy the Tennyson poem, Ulysses, especially those last few lines...

...that which we are, we are; 
One equal temper of heroic hearts, 
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Connections by andhereads

The Distance

This is a short piece I wrote many years ago.  I like the image with the poem and the idea of touch as the central theme.  At times, we get so busy we can forget how essential touch is to our experience, and how necessary.  When I wrote this, I had my ideal in mind, my muse, if you will, but no real person.  Now, I know what touch I longed to find; the singular experience of my wife's touch.  She laughs at me when I talk like this, as she probably should, but she loves me anyway ;)

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1 am: Sitting Half-In A Window Sill

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Here is a short piece I remember writing.  It was a cool, clear night in Oklahoma and I couldn't sleep.  I was upstairs in an old, black-and-white two-story house; I opened the window, removed the screen, and sat on the window sill, leaning against the frame.  My CD player (remember those) was playing Vivaldi.  I sat, looking at the night sky and thinking about my life.  I remember thinking about how small I felt, about the mistakes I'd made, and still not feeling overwhelmed or insignificant, just resolute.  I picked up a clipboard with paper and a pen and wrote this with one leg hanging out the window.  I hope you enjoy it.

killer nocturnals

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This poem was written long ago, and I just recently found it among my papers. I remember I wanted to try write a piece with more technical, scientific language,   Also, I was interested in the idea of a person's last breath; was it special? Could it contain something essential, the essence, of a person?  I started creating this scientist in my head who poisoned patients in order to trap the patients' last breath.  As you read the poem, you'll understand what the scientist hoped to find in that breath.  I also played with the form of the poem to give the visual image of a last breath being exhaled.  killer nocturnals was published in a random book of contest poetry of dubious merit.  I enjoy its oddity, and hope you do as well.

The Beautiful Uncertain

Which mountain should we climb?
you asked one night in your bed, our bodies
touching under the tan blanket, my nose
buried in your neck, my lips just grazing there
where my breath was dancing.
I could not help but think
of mountains in Japanese novels, of their strength
and their mass, their contrast with the quiet moon.
But you had not read those books
and I had not talked enough about them.
What then did you mean by mountain
when there are none near?
I thought my answer would be all,
that this answer would be a man’s voice sounding,
but could tell by the tone translated by your tongue
that this answer wouldn’t be right,
that you’d accept it in silence as one does
the speaker of a foreign language, smiling, to be nice.
Still thinking of the moon, and the strength
of a mist-ringed mountain, I looked
into your face for a faint trace of an answer.
Your eyes were shut; I kissed their lids
and touched your fresh, clean cheek.
You stirred, dug a little deeper
into my arms, and soon fell asleep.

I still remember how this poem came about.  It was 1998, and I was fascinated by the Japanese authors Yukio Mishima, Yasunari Kawabata, and, to a lesser extent, Kenzaburo Oe. Mount Fuji is often mentioned in Japanese literature, and I would look up pictures of it to gaze at.  I had recently finished reading the exquisite and exotic Sea of Fertility tetralogy and was thinking about satori moments (similar to an epiphany) and started writing a few lines down about mountains while drinking coffee.  I still like this poem and the way it sounds when read aloud (please, read poetry aloud).  Most of my poetry consists of terse, tension filled fragments (most evident in the series of Thomas poems); this is more lyrical.

The poem was published in Volume XIV of Oxford Magazine in 2000.  The magazine is still active, and they can be found online here.