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Home in the Dark

“It was not my conscious intention while writing these poems, but in hindsight I see in them an effort to explore a fundamental paradox. On the one hand, each of us is a unique individual with a unique awareness; no one experiences the exact same thing at the exact same time in the exact same way. On the other hand, as the life sciences, tribal peoples, and mystics of the world’s wisdom traditions continue to tell us, we are more deeply implicated in the whole of life than we dare to imagine. These seemingly irreconcilable perspectives are the poles between which many of these poems seem to gravitate; sometimes both are at work in a single poem.

“A poem can begin anywhere, with the smallest object or image—a wildflower, a weed, a face, a scrap of memory—yet it should move into unexpected terrain. I want my poems to be grounded in the details of daily experience, in the physical world, in what is close at hand, but also to touch otherness, strangeness, mystery. This is what I look for, what I pursue, in the writing—a sense of surprise, of stumbling onto something unforeseen.

“To work with the unfolding of a poem entails risk. I must be willing to follow where it leads, even when it asks me to enter some new wilderness of perception or experience. In other words, I must be willing to change. Poetry, if pursued in depth, is subversive and restorative. It delves beneath custom and convention, beneath all forms of received wisdom, beneath all fixed theories and interpretations, returning us to a sense of life as we know it to be in our deeper moments: beautiful, terrible, paradoxical. Poetry is, for me, a way of staying alive.”

–from the author preface

Letter of Apology to the Nonliving

              Dear dirt, stars, rain, wood, air
breathed in, blood-carried to my heart:
              Dear central sun and magma core,
great plates, mountains and oceans
that open beyond map and mind:
              Dear forgotten skeletons disintegrating
in fields, forests, graveyards, deserts,
calcium and carbon ghosts
of ancestors, cousins, friends:
              Dear fire, fiber, rock, space, wind,
hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen:

Please accept my profuse apologies
for how deeply I live in sleep.
As if you were mere background—
mere resource, scenery, furniture, stage.
As if I could dream myself into being
without your conspiring.
As if I did not live
every moment
in your visible and invisible arms.