I decided two weeks ago that I would read some poetry each morning–searching for peace & justice there, if lacking elsewhere–and write something of my own. My general feeling is to put more into the world of what I want to be there.
For the last two days I’ve been reading Koon Woon‘s Water Chasing Water (Kaya Press, 2013) and feeling my own heart swell upwards as if on a rising tide. Other reviewers have described him as a “writer of solitudes,” but I love the community Koon Woon invokes in almost every poem. I love his poems for his father, poems about sleeping under bridges, about the Chinese waiter reading Nietzsche and dreaming a writing life into being. In this time of madness and isolation, he gives me hope.
Yesterday I copied out this poem:
I know now the startling animals and their flying droves
in my wooded new neighborhood,
see the sadness waiting for the return of warm spring rains,
the threat of inverse proportional air
and the sped-up activities of clouds
as winds blow and roll empty trash cans down the street.
Pears and peaches, store-bought, slowly rot
in the fridge, and unattended bills continue to penalize
regardless of who is president of the land.
Jazz and espresso will be as permanent as the Statue of Liberty;
at the tea shop ladies lament that the waitress will grow old.
Rivers burn in the middle of December,
and veterans of unsung daily battles for bread
think in their meditative moments of bovine pastures.
I try to keep an orderly room so that chaos is minimal
because nightly a startling feeling inside my sleep
makes me flee across the pillows of a Third Avenue hotel,
and this time I am fleeing with a ledger,
with the photo of the last girl,
and, hatless in a light rain, seeing
all the cigarette butts in North Beach as the Normandy Invasion.
I shrug, shrug and am gone.
My assignment then, was to look carefully–lovingly, compassionately–at all that was going on around me and try to create my own catalog to hold it.
Koon once told me–quoting Confucius–“you must go where your heart goes.” Where is your heart going today?