Sunday, January 22, 2012


It's been a long time since I had a poem just come to me like this one did. It fell onto the paper, almost entirely as you see it now. I don't have a title because...titles are frustrating. But I do have a poem.

When the phoenix has lived for 500 years
the legend states the gold and scarlet bird builds itself a nest.
It collects the twigs and places them, night after night,
making sure the base, the sides, the circumference
are just right. The painstaking perfection
the broken repeating truth of impending change
rests on his feathers like lead snowflakes
increasing his brilliance
and the necessity of destruction.
His urge to self-destruct outweighs
the 500 years,
the brilliance of his feathers
the masterpiece of a home,
being a divine creature in an earthly world.

In Tibet, the monks in gold and crimson robes
place grain after grain of sand
day after painstaking day
creating a masterpiece whose only purpose
is to be destroyed
to serve as a reminder
that what we are is transitory,
this life
is impermanent
but destruction
is in our blood
when it's time, the bird and nest ignite
burn until only ashes remain,
the masterpiece of sand is washed to sea
and then it all starts again
the phoenix is born--ashes become egg
sand is collected and dyed
we give this life another try
with hope reborn from desperation.

But destruction rides along our bloodstream
traced by the map our doctors call veins
I know some days, they're my compass
leading me steadily to yes
and there are days
those roadmaps sit dangerously close to the surface
I trace the history of my life with glass
that used to be grains of sand
those pulsing maps
are waiting to be destroyed into ash
and who's to say, what we call veins
aren't blue sheaths holding our crimson feathers
our heart is the egg that holds our ashes
waiting to resurrect us
when a person in a gold and crimson robe
washes us --the masterpiece--
to sea.

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