by Ruben Quesada
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Take me. Take this. My wasted life and all
its bliss—the sea of your waking body
dawning with its warm grip on night’s wrist.
Your lips once curled into me. Your eyes
set me loose in a foggy lake. Loons call
to fill my deadened heart. To know
what loss is like you must lose everything,
you must lose even yourself, you said.
I am alone. Each night I lie and learn
to sing the dead back to life. Only they
can see what has been taken from me.
You are the bloodied cracks in my skin
so deep; I keep my hands together to hold
you in. Hear the damned prayers I reap.
Among the chaos of the 24/7 news cycle this week was this little gem: the 3M corporation raised a rainbow flag to honor Pride on Wednesday at their corporate headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota. If we are looking for small signs of change on how we treat each other as humans across the entire spectrum of our diversity it may seem a bit trivial, but it was in my mind none the less significant. That the flag will hang there for less a week is not important. This small step is not something that would have happened 5 years ago. It sometimes takes pain to foster change and healing. 3M is in the spotlight for providing masks to the world to protect ourselves during the pandemic and with the Twin Cities metro area in the global headlines for the wrong reasons, George Floyd’s murder, it is reassuring to see one of our corporate citizens do the right thing, take a risk and acknowledge in a public way the contributions of its LGBT scientists, employees and customers. It is a modest milestone that should be saluted.
Today’s poems are excellent examples of why not to read poetry literally. When I read the poem below it is obvious its about how readers take his poetry into their conscious and subconscious. How Whitman’s words are the essence of his best self. How poetry is sublime in ways that can cross metaphysical boundaries, but in the end, no matter how conjoined you become with a poet’s words, Whitman commands his independence and asks you, the reader to do the same. Even if you have been intimately moved and changed by what you have read and considered, you stand apart from the poet. Poetry can be a penultimate act of intimacy between two human beings but it remains personal in what we give and take as writer and as reader. Poetry in my opinion is procreation with our own souls. It is part of what I would consider essential living, the fulfillment of an exciting, passionate and considered life, whether writing it or reading it.
Another milestone this week: John Prine hit the charts with his first Billboard #1 hit with the last song he recorded before his death called I Remember Everything. He recorded it in his hotel room in London while under quarantine during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly isolation wasn’t enough and this insidious virus took his life. Prine’s song writing has always been a source of solace and inspiration to me. I smile that he is going out on top. Enjoy.
Whoever You Are Holding Me Now In Hand
by Walt Whitman
Whoever you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.
Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?
The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps destructive,
You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect to be your sole and exclusive standard,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life and all conformity to the lives around you would have to be abandon’d,
Therefore release me now before troubling yourself any further, let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down and depart on your way.
Or else by stealth in some wood for trial,
Or back of a rock in the open air,
(For in any roof’d room of a house I emerge not, nor in company,
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill, first watching lest any person for miles around approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade’s long-dwelling kiss or the new husband’s kiss,
For I am the new husband and I am the comrade.
Or if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus merely touching you is enough, is best,
And thus touching you would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.
But these leaves conning you con at peril,
For these leaves and me you will not understand,
They will elude you at first and still more afterward, I will certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.
For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me and vauntingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love (unless at most a very few) prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only, they will do just as much evil, perhaps more,
For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times and not hit, that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me and depart on your way.