Now and then you look at them on the shelves,
lined up, dusty,
neglected from the moment you put them there,
all that passion and madness released onto pages
with ink and heart, then left.
There are times you think about burning them,
now that you are old and mostly formed,
now that you have lived through love and hate
and love and hate and love again.
Now that you have survived your legs
being cut out from under you,
have nearly bled out. Who needs to see that,
And who needs to read the passion?
You and God. You and lovers.
All too bright, too hot, too personal,
those moments that reminded you
just how alive you could be.
Who needs to read the madness,
a journey anything but smooth,
wondrous and convoluted, too much humanness
in a single package, too complex to be real,
but therefore it is. Is this what you want
to be remembered as? You are unsure.
Perhaps they could be read as a poor man’s Proust,
less descriptive, more self centered,
a tale of redemption, of forgiveness,
of learning to Jagger dance in your old age,
of growing younger as you age.
You have burnt your past once before,
Twenty five years of love letters in a bonfire,
betrayal and pretense curling in the flames
and rising in little black ashes and disappearing
into the night.
It was not an act that brought joy,
but there was a certain release,
a symbolic starting over, a freedom.
You remember thinking, “Who knew
ghosts can burn?” as you sipped your glass of red wine.
you felt, if not good, lighter.
And so you look at these. Written since. Old journals
on new shelves, and wonder why “
you keep these old ghosts around.
Perhaps it is time to burn them as well,
and learn again how to fly,
before writing new anchors for your new age.
About this poem
I journal. And I keep the journals. Sometimes I wonder why.
And yes, I really did have a bonfire with my first wife’s love letters and cards many many years ago. I am still not sure if it was a good idea, but we do what we do and live with it, all of it shaping us, each action, even actions of destruction, an act of creation.