Single Wide Life (Poem)

2014-12-23 09.43.27


Single Wide Life

Growing up in a double wide trailer
Single wide world

Coal-gutted hillsides
Power plants loom umbrageous
Over my high school

Kyger, Gavin Plants
Lighting New York, New York
Dumping cancer
Killing Cheshire, Ohio

Southern Ohio, welfare checks in the mail
Daughters pregnant another time, bun in the oven,
Bigger check in the box

Valedictorian  enlisted (Navy)
Sight the world to see it
Life keeps on–an enlarging stain

“Cough, cough:
Has the mail come?
Shut the damn baby up!”

Chris gets on the bus
Holding a browned dishrag
To his bloody mouth:
He fell, he says:
His sister whispers their
Dad broke a coffee cup
Across Chris’ mouth

He squeezes into a corner of the seat,
Takes out a paperback of Candide:
He is reading it because I did
And he reads while his lip clots

The best of all possible worlds

Growing up in a double wide trailer
Single wide life


Philosopher (F. H. Bradley) (Poem)

I do realize that poetry–or an attempt at it–about obscure dead philosophers is not exactly a growth industry…


Philosopher (F. H. Bradley)

I do not know whether this in my case is a mark of senility, but I find myself now taking more and more as literal fact what I used in my youth to admire and love as poetry.”  –Bradley

McTaggart, on meeting Bradley:  “I felt as if a Platonic Idea had walked into the room.”

He lives
Taut between
Appearance and reality

Overdone with


Underdone with

He does not much leave the house

As if drumly
Of the Good
Could substitute
For living
In its light

“On all questions, if you push me far enough, at present I end in doubts and             perplexities.”

He lives
Amid systems
Without a view
In an age
Of worldviews

“The older I grow, the more I recoil from any forced venture in the dark.”

And so
He picks
The scab

Nothing is
Removed from
Existence by
Being labelled

He lives
With it all

All is real
Even if not
Really real

His habitual mood
Diffident bewilderment–
It is all too
Too much

There is
No lorica
No padding
Against it all

Is demanded


Is conclusive
Of the real

An opened
The sign
Of self-sacrifice


Increscunt animi, virescit volnere virtus


Philosophy demands
That he extinguish
Spiritual pride
But nothing
Kindles that fire

Vanity snuffs

So he must
Not think

He can save
Anyone else

The trouble
Of thinking

The goal
Is to stimulate
Thoughts on
First principles
And not
To supply them

The love
Of wisdom
Is love

In the twilight
He sounds out
The idols

He has ears even behind his ears

His truths
Are borne
In time

He lives
Stretched absolutely taut
Between dogmatism
And skepticism


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