Gods & Fire

It must be troubling for the god who loves you
To ponder how much happier you’d be today
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.

— Carl Dennis, The God Who Loves You
   

Perhaps the god who loves me resides within. For all I know, the god may be me. That's where gods begin. Like the dead who are gone until I bring them back, the heavens are empty until I populate them with the gods I create and come to believe. I begin with a pen, a sheet of white paper empty as the ether. The pen marks that emptiness, disrupts it, mars its clean surface. Each letter a star in the blank firmament, a soul remembered, a god written into the pantheon. The friction of nib on paper starts fires in a vacuum where it seemed nothing could ever burn. Pen strokes become letters become words become sentences become paragraphs. Constellations of ideas are born, tremendous things that move with impossible grace following mechanics of motion we largely fail to understand and attribute instead to the whims and desires of gods above who, come to think of it, are stories we've written under an empty sky growing so dark that soon I'll have to kindle some kind of fire to lights my way to the end of the story and keeps me from the fear of being all alone.

Chinese Poetry (a prose poem)

Billy Collins' poem "Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of their Titles" has me wanting to read Chinese poems. It's a common desire, really. Most people I have seen today surely feel that same urge. The woman in running clothes waiting to cross the street was composing a poem about a river. That kid driving past the deadened lake, steering with his knee while lighting a cigarette, was writing of a stone bowl of rice in a fire. The fluttering scarf of the child standing at the edge of the road holding his mother's hand was itself a Chinese poem. Or maybe Japanese. I struggle to to tell them apart. Maybe I want both. Maybe we all need both and will know one from the other by the slant of the light, the soft force of the breeze, and the wings of the heron beating the water. Hey, that sounds like Chinese poetry, I say aloud. I look for someone to nod and agree, but I'm alone here with a desire. That desire, I would explain it, maybe write a poem about it, one with an extraordinarily long title about why and how this feeling has come to bloom inside me and spread like wildflowers or wildfire or maybe just yellow dandelions across what has been a frozen landscape, but of course everyone already knows, having felt the yearning for the Chinese poets and their translated words, having stood in the shade of their mountains and dipped their toes into the cool lake by which our huts all stand. Our doors are open. Inside each hut a Chinese poet sits drinking dark red wine from a tall green bottle and waving us inside.