Robert Ronnow's most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005(Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site atwww.ronnowpoetry.com.
Life Is Not a Curse
I’m not hard,
I thought the cherry was the birch.
When the cloud cleared
I was still afraid.
At my best
I accept death
As a necessary search, wary
That assign us souls but not the trees.
I want long life, yes,
I want to plant my seed and walk the wilderness.
But not yet.
First I must just sit.
Sit and feel the pain
That keeps me sane.
Eat my meal quietly and remain
In the body I know best.
This morning in the east
The sun rose on the lake. Again
I breathed. I was blessed
And thought to say
Life is not a curse.
If, as they say, the cells
of the body are replaced every seven
years, then I’m a new being
since my sons were newborn.
I have died and been reborn
neither better nor worse yet remembering
feeding them while dancing to Moment’s
Notice, as they attended with new minds.
Having died, as such, I find I do not mind
quiet living with the purpose of a cell
unbound by minutes or moments
as men know them. There are seven
deadly sins, seven ways of remembering,
seven stages in which to have been or continue being.
None of them recur after one’s reborn
and none are known to us from before we’re born.
Of the two young people to whom I was born,
one has lately died. I do not so much mind.
Although I do not, he believed he’d be reborn
and who can say what happened to his soul or cells?
Perhaps in Christ we continue being,
or with some other deity, as the churches claim monotonously, momentously,
demonically and deviously. It seems about as relevant that seven
rhymes with heaven and rhyming’s a mnemonic device (for remembering).
what? To go to the daily discipline to which you were born?
I fought seven forest fires, took seven
lovers, my sons are seven, and my mind
is the sole owner and subsidiary of these memories and moments.
Unless I am to be reborn
they disappear with me. Masefield’s poem continues to be
the most honest and chilling assessment of our souls’ and cells’
disbursement. I can imagine stem cell
research may lead to a cure for dementia, loss of memory
about who you are and where you’ve been.
If one’s not been born
this doesn’t matter. But if you’re being reborn,
in the sense of “he not busy being born is busy being reborn” (Dylan),
then it is best and most correct to consider your last moment
of a continuum with moments endless and entirely in your mind.
The mind is made of cells and moments, seven billion of them.
Remember to be born and reborn, early and often.
Can Poetry Matter
In the debate between accessible and difficult poems
Poets’ poems and poems for people
Only the single poem and private reader matter
Both kinds and anything between can matter or not
Solid or made of air, a vase or heavy clay ashtray
One word repeated or many like a lei
An acquired taste, like wine, and like wine
Not sustenance, yet men die with their miseries
Uncut without it, news and mere matter
I advise everyone to keep a personal anthology of poems that matter
Or not. Perhaps it should be novels. Stones, insect wings,
Feathers, Birds you’ve seen, People loved.