I have created a plain, empty room
that has nothing but everything in it:
everything made of memories,
everything made of ghosts,
everything that is called “what might be,”
and they share it in dissonance and harmony.
The world I possess here in my empty room
is all mine, only mine, for the taking.
Neither friend nor lost lover can rudely deny me
the pain and the pleasure to sense and to savor
the moments I knew — nothing much, not long gone —
as the days of a century and more linger on
I do not have to enter my stark, empty room
to be there and to behold its ambiance
resonating from walls all the lives it has shared
with the families and all that took place here:
a child’s bed, a place to sew, a rubber ball. . .
With my mind and my heart I acknowledge it all.
As I ponder the future of my empty room,
I declare it: “Shrine To The Departed” —
the dreams nurtured by folks’ loving hopes and long labors,
the sparks fanned, oh so gently, to bright-blazing bonfires
of lives lived. . . I will leave the room alone.
They had their hallelujah moments. I will have my own.
It’s honest, but it’s an angle. I read the poem without showing the pictures at a poetry and song open mic hosted by Springfield Poets & Writers, March 19, 2014 at Robbie’s Restaurant on the south side of the square in Springfield, Illinois. I wanted to see if the poem works without a picture. The poem is so different from most of my poetry and song lyrics, and the tone of the poem doesn’t deliver much “Rah Rah Rah” to the audience, so it was no surprise that the reaction returned what the poem delivered.
The “angle” is that of my honest sense of wonder at what has taken place in this second, smaller bedroom of the house in which I live. I’ve used the room for many purposes since moving into the house in 1997, but the ways I’ve used it comprise another honest angle. The whole spectrum of a poem that deals with why the room is empty and what led to my clearing it out will probably never be written. At this point in my life, it seems to mean more to my life as an empty room, token symbol of the emptiness of my life, waiting to welcome a new element into my life, like a piggy bank placed on a table that sits by the street curb and the hope that money will somehow find its way into the piggy. The totality of that the empty room means is to MUCH to pack into a poem. I promised myself, committed myself to write a new poem to read on my return to the open mic after staying away for most of a year, getting tired of focusing on developing my aviation museum and having time and interest in little beyond it, and determining to write poetry again. The empty room has been on my mind a LOT lately, I knew I could not share all I felt about it in a poem, and the angle I selected is the angle I shared. I told the audience before I read the poem that I had thought about bringing pictures but decided to leave them. A poem must stand on its own. I also said I’d include them when I shared the poem at Honey & Quinine. It’s important that YOU, the WORLD know the empty room is a real room. And I am a real, honest, angled, poet.
Live long . . . . . . and proper.