Spring cleaning

Business-man-buried-under-paper1Going through old files on my computer, trying to organize–organization, or the Platonic ideal of it, always just outside my grasp. The process is extraordinarily time consuming, good work for foggy mornings.

In the process, I found this poem of Jack Gilbert’s I copied two years ago. It beautifully articulates a world view I share, except for the “what God wants” phrase. I think I’d leave that out and just say “We enjoy our lives. Otherwise” and go on from there. It seems I’m always editing Gilbert just a tad, too bad he’s not around to argue with me:

A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
Bur we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Jack Gilbert

Oh, and I’m reading tomorrow night in Larkspur:  http://www.dieselbookstore.com/event/larkspur-poetry-readings-marin-poetry-center-summer-traveling-show

 

2 thoughts on “Spring cleaning

  1. Is somebody, I want to say filming, but you know what I mean, recording your performance? It would be fun for me (and your other fans) to actually see and hear you reading your poems, or reciting. So is anyone getting this down on a smart phone or some newly fangled device?

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