One Has To

“quod idem in poematis, in picturis usu venit in aliisque complaribus,
ut delectentur imperiti laudentque ea, quae landenda non sint”

One has to keep on striving even when
no one believes in what one is doing,
nobody cares what one has achieved—then!
One must go on scheming and construing.
One has to keep striving all the time,
when one’s spirit flags, when one’s doubt rises,
when one seems so distant from the sublime,
even in the midst of one more crisis.
One has to keep on striving when even
the whole world disregards all that one does,
including passing away and leaving.
At just one moment before what one was,
as long as there’s one second of living
left to do, one has to keep on striving.


A Herder Near the Sea

A dream, a dream, is our life on the Earth here.
Like whitecaps in the surf, we lift our eyes and peer.
Like shadows on the waves, we drift and disappear.

We measure out our dragging steps by space and time,
and are (although we know it not) in the sublime,
as round us rolls eternity’s amazing mime.


To a Fellow Traveler

I came upon the Shrine of Incense Stored,
below that gorgeous valley’s tow’ring peaks,
along the hidden tracks of men, and poured
my spirit to that beauty each soul seeks.
Deep in that ancient wood I heard a bell
and woke to find a waterfall’s harsh voice
there in the mountains—oh, I cannot tell.
I was not sad, but I did not rejoice.
I saw some larches line a lake’s round rim
and sunlight sparkles on the surface shake.
I knew that only meditation’s dream
could tame the deadly dragon in that lake,
who stirred beneath its surface, wan and gray,
as if to say, ‘You now are on the Way.’


Mong: English

The misty fog comes in the morning to obscure
today. The figures in its haze are hard to see.
It covers mountains, trees, including the azure,
with grayness, drizzling even wavelets on time’s sea.
How can I then believe it, what the thunder said,
when all I saw were the tears falling in the tea?
I had not thought so very many strained by red.
The guards were shooting love and freedom, heroine,
and even the young lion at the zoo. The dead
were very many, carried off by th’ airy wind
they breathed, a breath so terrible, so sad, so pure,
we, on this northern island, heard its oxygen.


The Dragon

Across the universe it flies
while dragging its long tail behind,
like Draco in the midnight skies—
dark energy that’s hard to find.

It moves within a deep black hole,
beyond the farthest scene or known,
a mystery, opaque, yet whole,
where the event horizon’s shown.

This Dragon spreads its wings out wide
and breathes its fiery breath at all.
There is no safety from its flight
nor pleasant place t’ eschew its squall.

Its bright scales glitter in the light,
and with the flick of leg or claw,
it blows the night apart in stride.
It is a universal law.

No phoenix rising from its pyre,
no cygnus crossing to the south,
could ever match the freezing fire
that emanates from out its mouth.

The fragile age of agile life,
the cosmic super nova blasts:
all fall beneath its mighty strife.
Against its power nothing lasts.


Poetic Slams

Poetic slams are all the rage. The people rise
up, yes, to let it all out—Pentacostally.
Perhaps they grab a mike with fire in their eyes,
and then proceed t’ orate, o, so passionately.
Like lovers giving lovers kisses, they begin
to let fly words. A hundred at a time words flee
from out round mouths, o, hundreds at a time they spin.
And then it all starts to add up to thousands, yow,
so that one cannot count them all in such a din.
They go at it, like wolves out in the night—and howl—
intoxicated, soaring on linguistic cries
and verbal acrobatics, slamming, whamming, zow.


Bruce Dale Wise is a poet living on the West Coast.

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