POEM: “The Gift”


The Gift

Li Po’s poetic heir explains why

he destroys his poem after reading:


gifts are only given once, and I imagine

those torn papers floating downstream

or sacrificial flames engulfing verse,

rising smoke lyrics for the gods to enjoy.


Why can’t poems be given more than once?

Each reading–a sown garden of rock and sand:

the hard elements remain but with wind

and days the pattern will change.


I’ve reread my favorite verses many times.

What would I give to hear them read anew

by creators long dead and gone? Yet their words

live beyond the short years of their lives.


As lovely as that gesture is, I want

to gather those torn pages, mend them

with strong fast silver threads. I want

to press them between my palms

like the bright petals of plucked dandelions.


I long to keep what’s given.

Poems may be lost to time

but a single reading is not enough,

not for me.     Not for me.


Words, like breath, are too precious.

They change the world

with each exhale.



Happy November! And if you are participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, Happy Novelling! If you would like to be writing buddies or just check out my progress, I go by ‘ganymeder’ on the NaNoWriMo site.

I’m concentrating this month on my (already work-in-progress) novel, but my posts will still drop here once every two weeks and my additional Patreon posts once a week. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know in the comments, and have a great holiday!



*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Universal License.


**This is a reaction poem inspired by the poet Sony Ton-Aime’s performance of his gift poem at Latitudes Poetry Night September 2019.


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