Footpath and Runway (Poem)

When we walk with the Lord

stumbling
along, words lightening my feet
pondering their path
rainy Chicago

airport tarmac baptized iridescent black
delayed from 1:43 to 2:08pm
stewardess gesticulates
her boredom

oxygen is flowing even if
the plastic bag does not inflate.
Who knew that following footsteps would lead
me here?

other men, smarter and more solidly educated
talk to me but I know my place
even if bootless ambition makes it pinch.

I resolve to turn my back on old goals
even if my hankering after them makes me
crane ’round,

Lot’s wife, to see my past destinations shrink
reversing their direction as I reorient myself.

What a glory He sheds on our way

I have chosen the sheep’s life by choosing
the Shepherd

but I have not chosen unreason
I choose to be a Logical sheep
a sheep of the Logos.

plane stalled on the runway almost to take-off
yellow signs order drivers to yield to aircraft,
wings matter now, having them,
or not.

5 responses

  1. Glad to see you writing/posting poetry, Kelly, and after some of the good poems of others you have posted. “I have chosen the sheep’s life by choosing / the Shepherd . . . but I . . . I choose to be a Logical sheep.” Nice. Best, Wm.

    • Thanks, William. I hope you’re enjoying the holiday. –Posting poems by others makes it so much harder to post poems of my own: the distance between them is so palpable. Still, I love the poems of others I post, and my desire to share them is far stronger than my chagrin in knowing that mine do not measure up. (I think of others’ poems as aspirational peers of mine.)

      • Hi Kelly, I’m trying to use the holiday season (6 weeks or so) to reconnect with the “is” (or is-es) of my life and world, as opposed to the might be’s. So, not entirely easy! Your comment leads me to think that if (after Wittgenstein) we understand philosophy to have a poetic aspect, then struggling at and with poetry could be part of the discipline. (And if, after Plato, we recognize philosophy as theater, too, . . . There’s another struggle!)

        I am ignoring, however, the God and religion aspects of your poem. Raised atheist, and in many ways well-grounded in my particular atheism (an outgrowth of New England Protestantism), I nonetheless find questions of faith, of God and religion, as one of the richest avenues of “philosophical” (and “scientific”) exploration these days. With best wishes for the holidays, Wm.

  2. Leave the dishes. Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
    and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
    Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
    Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
    Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
    Don’t even sew on a button.
    Let the wind have its way, then the earth
    that invades as dust and then the dead
    foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
    Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
    Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
    or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
    who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
    matches, at all.
    Except one word to another. Or a thought.
    Pursue the authentic—decide first
    what is authentic,
    then go after it with all your heart.
    Your heart, that place
    you don’t even think of cleaning out.
    That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
    Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
    or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
    again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
    or weep over anything at all that breaks.
    Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
    in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
    and talk to the dead
    who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
    patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
    Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
    except what destroys
    the insulation between yourself and your experience
    or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
    this ruse you call necessity.

    “Advice to Myself” by Louise Erdrich

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