Poem: A Tin Man’s Song

A Tin Man’s Song

The music this morning is droning.
Low, machine-like. No lyrics,
or the few that show up from song to song
are submissive to the massive minor key
that fills the room, swallows the air,
leaving just enough for life to continue.

It is sunny outside. Humid already.
Even the birds have gone quiet,
looking for a place to escape the heat.
It is air-conditioned here in the diner.
Another low hum underneath the music.
Artificial, but welcome.
You are no different than the birds,

only cooler, happy for your artificial lair
as you sort out the past three years
and their stutter step dance of dodging boulders,
and none too well. Start. Stop. Start. Stop.
An underlying minor key with teeth.

Sooner or later, you believe,
you will find the melody again.
You will be able to sing more
than a jingle. Long songs
that tie together. Anthems.
Homerian epics that paint a picture
anyone will recognize. You will go
from drone to dance.

But to do that you must sit and listen.
Listen to your body.
Listen to the broken parts as they creak
and begin again. A tin man’s song.

You have to sit with it. Without wallowing.
Without pity. You must become an observer
to the cold and dead, a forensic scientist
able to pick apart the notes, rearrange them
one more time and find the hidden melody.
It’s there. Somewhere. And you have had to learn
patience with yourself
to let it arrive in God’s own schedule,
minor key and all.

About this poem.

The past few years have been a constant rise and fall and rise and fall again of health. It wears on a man. But I have been there before. Sometimes physical. Sometimes emotional. Long dark periods. And there are lessons in it. God has a way of leading you through wildernesses, then giving you a compass only as you emerge. A strange, but also strangely effective way to do things.

Waiting for the compass,


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