Exhortation (1981) edited 2008



I who have dwelt for a season
at the root of a scream,
I who have read my heart like a man
with no hands reading a book
whose pages turn with the wind…

I say Listen, hear me.

When you play at “strife-in-eyes”
and you stare to see which will go
under first–PLEASE PLEASE

be the first to smile.

Do not harden yourself…yourself…
Though it mean surrendering all
Turning yourself out
To Be Known at the world’s mercy

You may lose your name, you may not know

your shape, even the words
you breathe, spoken out so clearly
will loosen and disperse
possibly forever
all given over to the wind crying upon distant seas.

Moment of terror, should the
Moonlight name you a profile
Among Fallen Flowers

Yet you may survive, for many have done so.
You need only to close your eyes…

(Beautiful, Feminine Gesture)

And do not be afraid of the strange woman you find
Lying in the Chamber of your throat

So it will be:  Dark.       A     Long     Vigil.

far among splendours of despair…but
everything will be true, pure,
your love most of all.

But now, please, open your eyes.
Have we not said, down with all tyrants–

even our own?

They will glitter with knowledge of the other side

of the moon–their light of such
a quiet intensity that smiles and frowns

will fall away like shadows of
wild birds flying over–

Yet a degree of affection remaining, like
when you find an old Bible in an

old cupboard in an
old     empty     house–so it is.

Freedom and Beauty.  Do not be afraid.
Assume the freedom of those
born in captivity
who find the purity of being.

Do not be over-modest.
Wear the delicate beauty of those crippled

at birth who earn the grace
of their maiming.

 You must look     and you must seek

in the dreamless dark.

But I await you there…

The Dark Light Of My Eyes Burning With Patience

And then, my eyes will answer…

but they will not command a summons.


8 thoughts on “Exhortation (1981) edited 2008

  1. I see my dysphoria on rampant display in this old poem…I thought it was to someone else…but it was really who I was, writing to me, Charissa, all those years ago…Gawd, I used to hate this poem.  Even recently, I would turn the pages of old journals, and my eyes would simply bounce off these words…

    I am actually just flat out blown away at the obvious blasting that the person I was was giving me!  Trying so hard to tell me, tell himself.  It makes me cry now…remembering the long and salty tear slogged path.  I remember writing this, but the words are like a prophecy written 33 years ago and sealed in an envelope, and opened just now for me to see the glory of God in the forthtelling future.

    I hope you like it, Constance…I have gained a measure of admiration for him, the one who carried me so doggedly and faithfully to a place where I could be set free, and he to his rest could go in peace, secure in knowing he was faithful.

    I am forever grateful.

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