Down Impassive Rivers I Tried Each Thing

As one packed when into the boat by whom
is not a set of coordinates on the recovery map
you’ll need a good strong cup of coffee for this
as termites tunnel the elephant hull
chewing into the edges of an ever-refolding sea.

You see, I’ve been places.
Need one invoke the child’s reaching hand,
scream for green and blue
when they come unbidden, are here already,
and who will commandeer the ship?

I don’t see a captain anywhere.
Until we get back to the night that bore us
the age of twilight is ours
to own one step at a time
knowing lightning is a trickster

And rain is likely to cause slipups across the deck.
Oft times we’ll be able to meditate on future steps
bringing worlds to bear to lighten the load
of uncertainty, but certainly we will not succumb
to the foolishness of acquisition.

The tools have been sharpened and oiled.
The work is where we reside.
Eternity is not our business
except in the void of unknowing
making this moment, this step all there is.

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13 Responses to Down Impassive Rivers I Tried Each Thing

  1. Pingback: Writing ‘Down Impassive Rivers I Tried Each Thing’ | The Mockingbird Sings

  2. The image of the ship in storm is so well executed I though I was there… and for sure:
    Eternity is not our business
    except in the void of unknowing

    The conclusion most excellent

  3. Sherry Marr says:

    A most wonderful write. I love “the age of twilight is ours to own one step at a time” and “the work is where we reside.”

  4. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) says:

    ‘Bloom where you are planted,’ I was once told. 🙂

  5. thotpurge says:

    So many lovely lines and images here…chewing into the edges of an ever-refolding sea / eternity is not our business/ age of twilight is ours…. nicely done!

  6. Brendan says:

    Art’s the ark here for me a ship of human fools attempting survive the godly flood with apt tools but useless calibration. (The vibe of all those Middle Eastern refugees crams into here too somehow, fleeing and searching and not finding harbor.) Every artistic attempt at passage is greeted by the next impassible river; we are ever doomed to fail; falling through shadows is our post-Christian lot; as we compose our little arias–“making this moment, this step all there is.” Amen, Mark, it’s the night sea journey we must endure and somehow praise.

  7. hedgewitch says:

    Perhaps its the thing that makes us human in the best/worst ways, this opportunistic ability to live in a niche, a world of niches, neither one thing nor the other, carnivore nor ruminant, but omnivore casting back and forth for a place to rest who finds the sweet spot–and in the arts, that is a dark place of gestation and often miscarriage that precedes any possible birthing, because the light is indeed only given us in packets. Very thought-provoking poem and addendum, Mark–thanks for both as it was informative to hear where you were coming from with this one.

  8. The third stanza is my favorite.

  9. Helen Dehner says:

    Awesome poetry ~~ the sea as lovely origami. Perfect.

  10. Susan Scheid says:

    Mark: I’ve been eager to get back here. Every line of this poem is a wonder; you spin out worlds upon worlds. I wish I had your capacity to get “underneath” a bit and describe how or why. The poem progresses with stunning force from the first stanza’s cramped grammar to an open-hearted, courageous embrace of “now.”

  11. Marian says:

    One step at a time.

  12. ManicDdaily says:

    The river seems supremely impassive–we can only influence a bit with our oars! I love the phrasing of the poem, which seems at moment almost like a cut-up even as it flows from line to line–that gives the feeling of the swing of the bateau–I also especially like that void of unknowing, which is like the age-old cloud–the last stanza is so wise–but how do we do it?! Thanks. k.

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