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Learn to live with a mountain between us


Selected poems


To the time remaining


What is left

of you, whether long or short,

hovers as does a mirage

in the distance


and distance is

the medium in which

you conceal your secrets

about what and how much


time that remains but it is

up to us as to what

to do with whatever amount

of the measure


of our lives we have

yet to use, which then

provides us with

the exigency towards


momentum in

propelling our aspirations,

our positive intentions,

the proactive propulsion


of our ascendant arc,

and if not our own

then whatever it is

we can do for others,


or at least another

other than ourselves

in either an instant

or in a meaningful


hour, the most fervid

day, which might cast

itself as a prototype for

another that may


lay the karmic riprap

for more after that as long

as our purposes remain

resolute, as may our


time remaining, which then

portends that whatever

the amount we strive

to appreciate and savor


the instant of our lives,

which perpetuates beyond

the timelessness

in which you only dress


yourself in appearances,

since whatever remains

beyond you is sustained

by the impediment of


your inherent calculation

whose restrictions only

limit what is bound by you,

since however much


you are and whatever

the time you are remaining

to whomever and forever

long lasts without lasting.





As Americans, we have learned to live with

a mountain between us that we look up at every day.


Some live on one side of it and some live on another,

as two herds of giraffes might live on a savannah, dotted


with trees. We might have learned that we can no longer

feed on the leaves at the tops of the crowns, but need


to bend our long necks, which we carry on our small body

and relatively short legs, and we have retrained ourselves


to consume the leaves on the lower limbs. As we are

nibbling leaves on the lower branches, we are still seeking


to feed off desiccated leaves higher up on the limbs.

As we browse trunk to trunk, we think of the other herd


on the other side of the mountain; we both have not loved,

nor have we found a pathway, both of us only having evolved


to being giraffes, roving the woodlands without ever satiating

our hunger, by galloping first in one direction, then another;


and we have not made much of a difference to anyone,

including ourselves, and despite bowing and lifting


our great necks, the best that we can do is to spend

most of the time avoiding the wild dogs of our best intentions.



A conversation


He says, ‘Think of your awakening

as the event that it is, that it perpetuates,

that its ascendency is as resilient as

a tungsten filament radiating with you.’


She says, ‘Tell me more.’ He says,

‘When I drive to the studio in

the morning, I experience independent

moments of my life but am aware


that they are all interconnected—

as we are all enmeshed, as in

the metaphor for interbeing,

the jeweled net of Indra.’ She says,


‘Yes, we’re all one, but tell me more.’

‘By the time I drive through

those s-curves by Gagne’s Store before

the Granby Road, and look out at


that plein of uncut meadow

on the other side of the street, I see

that I am present in the moment

when I was five, wearing a captain’s


hat, gazing over the ocean from

the shore, on a school field trip,

by a lighthouse, on a clear day,

near Miami; or am one with you


the day we hiked the Notch that

brilliant October day when we

cavorted among the colored leaves,

the sunlight flooding through


the partially defoliated trees.’

She asks, ‘Is there more?’ He says,

‘Yes, there is always more, every

changing moment is eternal, that


is what is our eternity truly is,

and there are as many awakenings

as there are stars in the sky,

and to experience that is to observe


that tungsten glow inside you,

to feel its filament radiating

within, and to feel your life unfurl,

in your ascendency, as does


a scarf rippling in the wind—

all of it interconnected, each sequin

reflecting the other, as in Indra’s

bejeweled net, all of it aglow.’





Zeig Heil,

Herr Donald, Zeig Heil.


Zeitgeist dictator,

wolfish ghoul,

you frighten us


with your rage, your terror,

your glinting white teeth

flecked with spittle

throughout your ranting stump speeches,

Herr Donald,

Herr Trump.


Even in the hard rain

of October,

puddled with burnished

colors of fallen leaves,

your name echoes

in the hallowed darkness,


ricochets around

the abyss you inhabit

with the evil you have created,

Zeig Heil,

Herr Donald, Herr Trump.

Little Putin with small hands,


monster whose monstrous

actions double down on each other;

hater, liar, predator, scoundrel, cheat,

if we could we would unveil you,

disaster of disasters,

and expose you for whom and what you are,

and make an example


of your narcissistic reviled glory

for what it is

and flush you into

a deep state black hole—

a conspiracy theory

of your own making


from which you won’t be able

to escape —

so we could be remade

without you psycho power grabbing

and sociopath logical

obstreperous outlandishness


mocking whatever is worthy and fine,

sowing vicissitudes of despair.

Zeig Heil,

Herr Donald, Zeig Heil,

may your obdurate soul

blacken in hell’s gravity,


for your crimes against humanity,

may those flames burn you

in the same way you have

intentionally scorched the earth

with your bizarre displays of idiocy

and your whipping up


the recklessly wild lunacy

that has brought down goodness and decency

and has dragged that

through the streets

where your unhinged rhetoric,

try as it may,


will never be potent enough

to spoil our sunniest of mornings,

since it is we

who will topple you

by our standing firm

in opposing your wretchedness and wrath.



Wally SwistWally Swist's books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love, The Daodejing: A New Interpretation, with David Breeden and Steven Schroeder, and Candling the Eggs.


Topic tags: poetry, Wally Swist



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