A Poet’s Hands

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Hands.

Mine only hold this journal. Only the extremities of an invisible will turn the pages, a wind blowing each folio to the next, unaware of the marks of my pen.

Knowing this, frees me.

 

The apparition will lurk in the abyss, or stand on the Precipice, hovering close by yet not close enough to dissuade me from this writing. My right hand writes as my left holds the open book.

Hands. Hands of a father’s so calloused from farm work, yet so gentle, reassuring and kind. Hands that held me when I cried, hugged me in pride, sheltered me when anything bad happened.

Papa’s hands, so stiff and cold I could feel my guilt when I touched them.

I could not go with him beneath our Texas soil. Instead, I had to swallow the bitter taste of a life void of his teachings and wisdom.

Hands of a clock that have ticked forward four years.

Hands. My own forming into fists. A change of course is overdue.

 

You know how they say …

 

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Well, I say:

Keep

Qualm

and

write

poetry

because for me, many of the best poems stem from self-doubt, worry, and unease.

Here’s one I memorized in the 70’s because I loved Rod McKuen’s poetry.

Clouds are not
the cheeks of angels
you know
they’re only clouds.
Friendly sometimes,
but you can never be sure.
If I had longer arms
I’d push the clouds away
or make them hang
above the water
somewhere else,
but I’m just a man
who needs and wants,
mostly things he’ll never have.
Looking for that thing
that’s hardest to find…
himself.
I’ve been going
a long time now
along the way
I’ve learned some things.
You have to make the good times yourself
take the little times
and make them into big times
and save the times
that are alright
for the ones
that aren’t so good.
I’ve never been able
to push the clouds away
by myself.
Help me.
Please. 

Rod McKuen 1967