The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Bruce Bennett


You start a poem. You don't know where it's going;
it could go anywhere. It makes a choice.
A course is set. You follow in its flowing,
content to trust its vision and its voice.
Pattern emerges. This will be a sonnet.
It ambles with a clean and easy gait.
You're easy too, though much is riding on it;
you sense significance, a touch of fate.
You start a love affair. Your heart's uncertain.
You don't know where it's leading; nothing's sure.
The stage is set, and life has raised the curtain.
A drama's just beginning. What it's for
is still unclear; the future lies in doubt.
But you sense joy, content to ride it out.


It kills me not to see you, though
what would I say⎯What would I do⎯
Sometimes it's better not to know

What's going on. Like where you go
with him. Are things okay with you?
It kills me not to see you, though

To see you now would be to throw
light on a horror! Better view
our past together than to know

Truths I couldn't bear. Best watch a show
that's known and features nothing new.
It kills me not to see you, though

I'm learning that will help me grow
away from you, and, since that's true,
I've finally chosen not to know

What only would destroy me. So
I tell myself⎯to make it through⎯
it kills me not to see you, though
I know it's better not to know!


They seek me out; I know their stories well.
The desperate plea. The paralyzing woe.
Deaf ears. Stone hearts. The strategies they know
will get them nowhere; how, and where, they fell,
but never why, that why that could reveal
why they are in distress; why they must show
themselves to be so helpless. Then they go
back to repeat it all again, to tell
these same tales over. Yes, I hear them. Yes,
their pain is real, their suffering stark and true.
Yes, it is true it helps them to confess;
to see clear for that moment; to renew
their faith that somehow, somewhere, there's a way.
I hear them out. I don't know what to say.


I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met
a man who had no feet. So I said, Got any shoes
you're not using?
                                ⎯Steven Wright

He hands them over.

They're pretty scuzzy,
but they'll do, you know,
in a pinch.

So then I wonder.

"How'd you get here anyway?"

He's sprawled in the dirt
under this scabby tree.

He smiles a huge smile.

The guy's practically toothless too.
I mean, talk about luck.

So then he pulls out these crutches
he's got tucked away under him.

Handmade; good wood.
A neat job.

Whoa! I'm thinkin'.
I know what they'll go for.

My throat's startin' to feel
awful parched.

So I says, real-nice-like,
I says to him:

"What's a guy like you
wanna leave a spot like this for?
Where would you go,

Why don'cha give me
them too?"


There is a wiser self below
the actor we and others know
performing in our daily show;

The fool who takes the falls; the clown
who lets himself and others down;
the personage who sports a gown;

That crowd of them the actor plays.
They fool us as they fill our days
with acts and antics that amaze,

Until it's easy to forget
how we are camped out on a set;
how there are folks we've never met

Who yet may come to play a role.
We have illusions of control.
At times we think we see our whole

Production clear, and what it means.
Meanwhile, below, behind the scenes,
that one, unknown, bemused, remains.

Copyright 2006-7 by Cook Communication