a familiar landscape

they talk about roads not taken
but there are roads took
choices made
that lead here
so very far from home
and home is where you go
when there’s no place left
to run
a familiar landscape
under a familiar sun

Ancient Air by Lı Po (Li Bai)

Deep in the gorgeous gloom the lotus grows,
to blossom fresh upon the morning air.
Its petals cover even the clarity of autumn’s flow,
its leaves spreading, blue smoke there.
But it’s in vain, this beauty that would overwhelm the world.
Who sees it? Who will say he saw?
And in its time the frost will come, chilling,
its deep red will wither, and its fragrance fade.
Poor choice it’s made of where to put its roots.
It would be seen to more advantage in a garden pond.

translated by J.P. Seaton

might have been: for Maureen

you & I
will always be
in our early 30s
in LA
you up the road
from me
on Coast Highway
coming to work
at I&L
on Tuesdays & Thursdays
and me
spending too many evenings
drinking bourbon
in the Airlane Bar
across the street
and how life
might have been different
as you once mentioned
in Venice
if we had made
other choices
back then
all the men
at I&L
were a little bit
in love with you
but certainly no more
than me
I often wonder
if I had been sober
more often
had acted sooner
what might have
could have
but we did
what we did
what we chose
as best we could
under the circumstances
but always
always in my mind
you are up the road
from me
overlooking the ocean
and I just never seem
to arrive
on the right day

listening to Neil Young

the line
a woman with the feeling
of losing once or twice
over time
to mean so much more
now than then
and you
have been coming
to me
for such a long time
such a long time
am I ready
the pepsi challenge
can I tell
the real thing
from the pale
chickens or eagles
the ground or the sky
tell me
3000 years of history
what the future

life, again

when all else fails
there’s always life
coming along to surprise you
it could be some gesture
a spoken word, or two
perhaps the touch of a friend
or someone not so friendly
a flood in the neighborhood
power shortages
a voice from the heavens
or someplace farther south
or maybe someone seen
in a different light
you know, something you didn’t expect
good or bad or indifferent
but you’re stopped short
breath held
there on the precipice
whatever balance you thought you achieved
is now called into question
go or stay
throw all caution to the proverbial winds
this business called life
suddenly changes
and whatever rules applied before
no longer matter
it is a new day
or maybe evening
and all you have are what’s left of your wits
so saddle up, partner
whatever it is
it’s begun

from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

“And again he thought the thought we already know: Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can only make one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various decisions.
History is similar to individual lives in this respect…..

….History is as light as individual human life, unbearably light, light as a feather, as dust swirling into the air, as whatever will no longer exist tomorrow.”

translated by Michael Henry Heim