beyond words…beyond names

DSC_6975Prayer is what you bring – for prayer is your gift to us rather than what you ask of us. If only I could pray – and yet I can and do pray. Teach me to go to the country beyond words and beyond names. Teach me to pray on this side of the frontier, here where the woods are.   – Thomas Merton, Journal July 17, 1956

from “The Heads of The Town” – Jack Spicer

St. Elmo’s Fire. Or why this will be a textbook concerning poetry for 20,999 years. Almost a lifetime.

I chicken out at the edges of it and what doesn’t come through to me at the edges of it isn’t as if angels met singing or any of that business.

We are all alone and we do not need poetry to tell us how alone we are. Time’s winged chariot is as near as the next landmark or busstation. We need a lamp (a lump, spoken or unspoken) that is even above love.

St. Elmo’s Fire was what was above the ships as they sailed the unspoken seas. It was a fire that was neither a glow or a direction. But the business of it was fire.

Thanks – W.S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

W.S. Merwin, “Thanks” from Migration: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by W.S. Merwin.  Reprinted by permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc..

2 new poems

My Final Thought of You

It happens often now, forgetting
the words but not the thing
itself.

This week alone the words cilantro,
Curtis Mayfield, actuary seemed
lost, erased.

You, too, are there in a slight daydream,
a glimpse of a waning moon
on a sunny day.

A thunderstorm rises from Mount Blue
not 20 miles away. The birds and I
find shelter.

The stream is silent, hopeful. My breathing
slows as I count to measure the first
strike of lightning.

© 2018 Bill Schulz

Portland

And they are eager to cross the river,
for the justice of God so spurs them on
their very fear is turned to longing
~ Dante, Inferno Canto III

street corners and pushpins     every landmark I know
underground bowling    alleys and bars     bars with dirt
floors     invisible I was alone     with my highballs
walls     glasses and hedges    shadows    lies

shots mug shots     hand in hand   I’ve known I’ve lived here
too long    streets looking backwards    vans at night and
take your meds    so long    so long say the guards    I
haven’t worn corduroys in years     now you’ve seen me

shall we live at opposite ends    and forget     islands
obscured by fog    moment to moment    and gone
as the world reflected    this wet parking lot    in stainless
steel     did I pay you    by the tracks     or not

© 2018 Bill Schulz