‘An honest man is always a child’ is a sourceless quote often attributed to either Socrates or Plato. I really don’t know. I had a notebook made of limestone paper and the quote was written on the front. I’ve seen this quote before, maybe you have too, and whenever I see it it’s connected to the faith or understanding of a child being something of a purity you should try to attain. Maybe.
Child. instead compares, contrasts, and pokes fun at the process of growing old. Child. was one of the things that I needed to write. There’s no creative structure, no real aesthetic, and it’s mostly void of any clear line that you could call poetry. It’s more like four thoughts that share some similarity with each other. But these four thoughts are interesting to me because there’s no honest beginning or end. To me, this reflects the journey of understanding anything. The first line is the first line but it may as well be the third or second. The same goes for any other line; understanding is an endless journey. The natural conclusion at any age is that to be man you must be honest. To be honest you must accept your own limited understanding and begin again as a child.
i hope i never stop writing. writing poetry for the past two years has been something i never thought i’d do but i’ve found some real enjoyment out of it. so here, now, are a few of the poems i’ve written that i consider to be my best.
1. -poems for Tanya two weeks before my wedding i wrote three poems for my wife. the first of the three i consider to be the best thing i’ve ever written. this is about the hidden beauty and peace i find being with my wife.
2. álas Blood, – an ekphrastic poem on Pieter Bruegel’s painting of Calvary. while most paintings of the subject focus on Christ, Bruegel’s painting highlights a scene that is comprised of individuals. i was, and always will be, fascinated with the human aspects of the gospel and ‘álas Blood’ reflects what i see from Bruegel’s painting as well my own experience with the gospel.
3. ATTA SOL i part two in a set of two poems; this poem acts as the beginning to the end of a semicolon which is part one. where part one, ‘MA FLORA i’, presents my relationship with God and nature as non-symbiotic, ‘ATTA SOL i’, ends the contrast with an ellipsis so as to say i am unsure of what to do from here.
4. -ANALOGOUS HYMNALS Pg. 03 another part in a set, this is the final part in a set of three. i started this set of poems with the first poem from the perspective of my current age (then 23). this, the final part, was from the youngest perspective of three years old where i imagine the bliss of Christmas with my family at an age where things were more clear.
5. The Lyric of a Shared Winter very simply, i wrote this about Tanya in May of 2017 while she and i were a world apart. a Winter separated us since we had last seen each other, metaphorically and literally.
often i’ll write about my relationship with God in a way that might be uncomfortable for some. notably, all of my writing about God is in the form of a conversation. i think God values absolute honesty in communication, even if it is at times heretical. i feel when i am able to speak with God like this i am able to strengthen my relationship with him in a way that is honoring to Him. because i do love Him.
this is written as a set of four mirroring a backwards walk through the stages of grief. traditionally there are five stages to grief, the last stage being acceptance. this poem omits acceptance as i feel acceptance is unwritable. acceptance, to me, is a continuous process and since it involves so much change and continuous contemplation, the feeling itself can’t be isolated into a poem.
i wrote beginning with the last stages of grief so as to show the exchange of losing confidence in myself and losing my confidence in God. so here are the four poems and an extrapolation of my times wrestling with grief.
i feel like i don’t need to explain this one as much as others so i’ll keep it short.
the thing about Winter is it’s predictable. predictable enough for nature to prepare for it’s coming and leaving in a way that even becomes predictable to us, the people who get to observe and reflect upon change. and the thing is, as great as humans are at adapting to change, we’re pretty near-sighted when it comes to dealing with it. at least i am. the beetle in my poem, however, can rely upon the change of the seasons. in some way he can set an alarm knowing he will in fact be woken up. and if Winter is the metaphor for hardship, i feel somewhat less prepared for Winter and Spring seems a long way off.
in a few months the beetles will wake up and the pines will relax their shoulders and, if Winter is the metaphor for hardship, i feel less prepared than the beetle or the pine for the foreboding cold. the warmth of Spring seems to await me now.
when you know for sure, without a doubt, that something will happen it’s easy to predict the future. sometimes when i’m on the bus and i’ve got another thirty minutes of sitting down and looking out a window ahead of me i’ll think to myself, ‘in thirty minutes i’ll be at at my front door and i wonder what i will be thinking about then’.
in 2017 i knew for sure, without a doubt, that i would marry Tanya. but she lived in Ukraine and i had to go back home. there was more than a thirty-minute gap and although i knew so certainly that i would marry her, i could not see how. so, on the second of May in 2017 i wrote about it. i wrote about the feelings we shared, the moments we held in our palms, and the things that made me so sure. i also wrote about the things that held me back, the things i would have to overcome, and the palpable distance between moments.
two years passed.
in 2018 i married her.
and on the second of May, in 2019, i wrote what i felt when i arrived at the moment i knew would one day come.
integrity is a thing that either makes you whole or, if you ignore it, makes you hollow. it’s interesting that, for one reason or another, humans are completely allowed to cheat themselves. i can present myself in a way for so long that i start to believe it. so much wasted time. i didn’t fully understand this when i wrote we walk in 2017; i was learning it. marriage forces you to challenge your built up persona completely.
we walk is about the droning march of defining yourself and allowing your actions to define you openly. when Tanya and i collided we both carried frustrations with us that we were letting define us. although we were open with each other on the surface by recognizing that we were both bent up in some way, the depth of our caused pain lay beneath the surface. Tanya and i are both excavators but i think it’s sometimes difficult for people who are willing to take other peoples pain to acknowledge their own vices. it’s easy for us to acknowledge what hurt us, it’s difficult to speak about where that pain led us.
so integrity is as much interpersonal as it is personal. and i think this isn’t a realization that you can come to. i think integrity is a thing that comes at the end of something. integrity is the reward of sussing it out in a way. at the end of everything we need integrity to sustain ourselves and sustain others.
as an aside i wanted to celebrate the work of Hiroshi Hamaya by mentioning his photo, Mt. Fuji, which accompanies this poem. i was thinking of doing a post on him bu the Ibasho Gallery wrote an incredibly concise biography that i would only try to emulate.
to start this off let me explain one of my favorite, and shortest, poems from 2017. around this time i was dating my now wife, Tanya. our relationship was tough and under the natural strain of distance. because of this, a lot of my writing in 2017 comes from a place of regret and longing. it was difficult for me to see where the relationship was going because of so many miscommunications and missed opportunities that come with dating over distance and my writing sort of took on that emotion.
/i would tear out a page of my past and relive the cold morning/
if life is a book i wanted to go back to the pages where things made sense and were more clear. that place in time was before i decided to leave for my home country leaving Tanya behind. ‘the cold morning’ is a reference to cold winter mornings. i wanted to relate the feeling of waiting for the sun to rise on a cold winter morning to the feeling of waiting for things to kind of get better.
/i would retrieve the figments i abandoned. i would dive into you/
‘figments’ is the stand out word in this poem. it’s the strongest. the feeling of our relationship at this time was that it was and it wasn’t. it was real but impossible to grasp. in a distance relationship the most important thing to manage is to hold onto the reality of two worlds in the same place. when i struggled to hold them, and would let go of them, i would wish i could hold onto them again. ‘i would dive into you’ is the strongest way i can say i would completely commit to this relationship if i could get past all of these feelings.