Starting Next Week: Video Poems.
We will be taping the poems for you so you can have a small reading each week. Because we need each other’s faces and voices, don’t you think?
What a way to be united, eh? Here’s an elbow hug to all of you.
And helplessly, I hope that you are not among those infected.
It’s almost our daughter’s birthday. She has insisted that her age be 44 plus one. (Let it sink in. It can take a minute.)
I am often asked why I am happy all the time. It’s almost as if the question were really, “Don’t you know what’s going on?!?”
Let’s get something straight right off the bat that can’t be swung for at least a month…
I am NOT happy. In fact, I am quite sad. All. The. Time.
In fact, I don’t even believe in happiness. The pursuit of that imaginary goal in the Declaration was one of the world’s greatest mistakes. It’s caused more misery and break-ups as people keep trying to be happy and using it as a reason to leave one another. “Oh, I don’t know; I’m just not happy.”
Well, good luck on your next safari.
Happy is something that sometimes comes along. It’s not, never has been a part of us. “I need to see a therapist.” “Why?” “Oh, I don’t know, I’m just not happy.”
How in this world can anyone be happy? Sure, for a bit. It comes from an “external circumstance or stimulation.” We can’t decide to BE HAPPY. (Oh, I know the song: 🎼”Don’t worry. Be happy.”🎼)
How at a time like this, could one feel happiness?
What you may see is that I choose to behave cheerfully as an act of benevolence toward others. And lest you think I am consistent or can sustain this. Nope.
Of course I am full of disdain for those who or that which deserves it. And oh do I let down those who most deserve my being of good cheer. Time and again I forget that being of good cheer is something I must choose to be. It’s a set of muscles that need to be exercised constantly, but do get tired.
So, Let’s Be of Good Cheer. Or let’s at least try. Especially now..
Within the Moment of Indefinite Suffering
All it takes is a touch. You can be walking
your dog. Your dog can be stopping to
sniff a patch of jewel weed or pausing
to pee on a post surrounded by poison ivy.
You could be watching a swallowtail slowly
lifting and settling its wings while resting on
a swatch of crown vetch. The sun could be
lost behind clouds, clustered in a cumulus
mound of white or sinister gray, the moon
could be full, waning, new, the stars moving
across their scrim of deep space, everything
still benign in its revolving threat. You
could be sweeping the walk, passing under
the pergola draped in wisteria, wedding veil,
honeysuckle, or merely sitting on the bench
beside the brook out back. Or taking a path
through the park, joggers steady-stepping, or
walking along the well-worn trail to the pond
at the edge of town where you could be sitting
under the willow, its branches hanging their braids
over your wait for the sunfish to surface. It could all be
beautiful: the day, the light, the breeze bending the tall grass.
— Dedicated to all those suffering under the politics of the pandemic.
First published in a slightly different form in Poet Lore.
Subsequently published in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State U. Press)
Unless the pandemic causes it to be cancelled, the reading at The BookNook & Java Shop in Montague has been set for 7pm on April 28, when I’ll be joined by friend and poet Mark Hiskes. I guarantee you will love the place along with its good food and beverages. Many thanks to owner and arts promoter Bryan Uecker.
Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.
Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast. And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise… Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently. I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.
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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.
Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.
Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.