On Getting Started

   My poetry?  It's started?  Oh, that would
   be nice.  It sounds to me like jumbled noise
   unsuitable too much beyond a shrug,
   too much beyond what ought be disallowed
   as suited to the payment of my dues
   or any other debt.  It's just my luck
   this happens to be moving me.  What's good
   enough to do so gets to stay.  What stays
   gets me, so this is how I get it back.

   Do I already have you looking back
   both there and here?  Don't waste your time.  That wouldn't
   give away the rest of this.  That secret stays
   with me, with her, just us.  One thing annoys
   me: credit being claimed.  It isn't good
   to call a poem what's little past a shrug
   if even that.  Real poetry's pure luck,
   the exhale next in line spoken out loud,
   an ordered list of allout can't undo's.

   But since you ask me, this will have to do
   to say what makes me keep on coming back,
   why once was not enough.  Am I allowed
   to mention names?  You'd know her if I would ―
   She's written here.  I'm hoping I'll get lucky
   and she'll know this: what doesn't leave us stays
   the night, each breath a word, each word a hug,
   each hug a kiss.  What one hears through the noise
   need not be perfect to do us its good.

   I've got it bad ― she got me pretty good
   and poetry's not at risk to undo's
   no matter how ridiculous my noisome
   voice might get.  She's got me front to back
   like every wisp of air in me's been hugged
   and every secret memorized aloud,
   at home more than her usual one-night stays,
   like symbols carved and burned into the wood
   of all the best of all my worst damned luck.

   I love her.  She's my love.  I'm not reluctant
   that confession to disclose.  She's good
   for me. Return my love?  I wish she would,
   although that's not a thing she likes to do.
   But whether kept or lost, one's love still stays
   that quiet voice past all the other noise,
   love's quiet whisper dreamt alive out loud
   as though its poem were meant to be read back.
   That's it. That's why I started writing.  *shrug*

   It matters, doesn't it?  I shouldn't shrug
   to think so.  Dreams are just something you lug
   along, they said.  Expecting something back's
   a dream within a dream, as though some god
   reversed forbidden fruit to what's allowed.
   I went expecting nothing. Maggie would
   take that as though she loved me for my noise
   then laugh at all our doctors' don'ts and do's
   and turn it into word.  And that's what stays.

   What doesn't leave your dreams alone, that stays
   alone what doesn't leave your dreams.  It hugs
   their lonely hearts, it pays their union dues,
   it gives it energy, it brings it luck
   and purpose, it finds sense in all the noise,
   it wakes up singing light, it folds it back
   into itself, it heals the wounds that wouldn't
   heal themselves, it faces off her gods,
   it makes them real, it lives her life out loud.

   I learned from her as much as she allowed ―
   the verbs that prove the faith, the forms that stay
   the curse, the pauses bending it, what's good
   enough to wait too long for, what got shrugs,
   rhetorical maneuvers, poems that would
   take years to draft, her lost and found to do's,
   her hidden links, responses she'd write back
   to someone else, to someone with the luck,
   the one to whom she wrote.  Yes, that annoys

   me, I admit: that it was all just noise
   to whom she wrote it for.  I'm not allowed
   to let that bother me.  But if I'm lucky,
   she's still reading, she'll see who has stayed
   around, who'll still be here when she gets back,
   the world she started, the poems which if not good
   still suit up to the payment of my dues,
   if not so much beyond this simple shrug,
   then how it might have started, if it would.

         (Some background: Noisy as this sounds, or lucky
         as it would have chanced, or good and loud
         as stays its shrug, it's subject to redo's.)


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