Notes against a closed-fist mind


Eulogy at sea

When a tree
is felled,
there's one tree less
for shelter, shade,
the holding of a bird's nest.

Now there are too many

rooms and conversations
to which you cannot add.
The way you moved and talked
are recalled,
but our gestures and inflections
are secondhand.

Lens and shutter
frame moments —
clothes worn,
places visited,
your repertoire of gazes,
but no one
can be fully known.

You were born,
you were alive,
directed by more than
the compass of your senses.

Let us not forget
our sometimes amazement
at living —
to have lain in summer grass,
or with another,
looking up at the night sky,
trying to understand
galaxy after galaxy,
where each star
issues then bequeaths
its light.

Your body,
rendered into ashes,
can be held
in one cupped hand.
Marvel at this too
as the wind and sea
take you
away from
our mortal reach.


Some observations and a wish
for Ron Padgett

Time is lost more often than it's found.
Be wary of having too many intentions.
Make the rut you're in as uncomfortable as possible.
Don't dwell in dark places unless it's to gain empathy
for those who dwell in dark places.
No one is born with a conscience.
One person's misbehaviour is another person's missed behaviour.
Real progress will occur once we've turned dandruff into a fuel.
During your life the speed at which you remove your clothes may vary.
If pigs could fly, there'd be less bacon.
To ants, a twig is a battering ram.
May your mind resist the impulse to be a closed fist.


The next time you've got writer's block

Take a running scrawl at
what's in the room
or cornered in your heart.

the veins of a leaf, the bank teller's fingernails,
what the people seated at the next café table
are saying with their clothes, gestures and mouths.

Remember that you've got a vocabulary.
So have dictionaries, billboards, headlines and traffic policemen.
Words are in one era and out the other,
hiding in ambush amongst Scrabble tiles and crossword clues.
Let a few wander onto a black page.
See whether they react to each other.
If not audition some more.

Return to the circus arena
of being playful and daring,
balancing words on the tip of your nose
as you jump through flaming hoops
in rehearsal
for opening night in a new town,
far from where you've written before.

Peter Bakowski headshotPeter Bakowski was born in Melbourne in 1954 to Polish-German parents. He writes his poems on an Apple MacBook and sometimes by hand on postcard-sized index cards. When doing so keeps in mind the following three quotes: 'Use ordinary words to say extraordinary things' (Arthur Schopenhauer); 'Writing is painting' (Charles Bukowski);  'Make your next poem different from your last' (attributed to Robert Frost).

Topic tags: Peter Bakowski, poetry



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Existing comments

Oh thank you Peter for these. A sigh of recognition, a cry, a laugh out loud. Beautifully touching.
Jorie | 16 October 2013

Thank you for your ideas. I found them provocative,but lacking in a sense of blessing. At times "a rut" is the best place.
Mary P Tiller | 12 November 2013


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