Poem: Here and There

It seems my whole life was preparatory to leaving America to live in Europe and yet it's such a singular experience that only one in a thousand would even know what I mean.

Here and There

Took nine months to learn
the soap in my dish scrubber
runs out too fast when
filled more than halfway
Strange way to spend nine months
Not the only thing I learned,
but it seems significant
and I wonder at that

Learned to care about myself, that
I may be overfilled and running out
Learned to clean the toilet,
disengaged from television,
stepped down from wanting things
Saw things inside, darker, brighter things
An emerging of the submerged
Funny stuff, great stuff, meaningless stuff

What’s it like to live in a foreign land,
a city not your own? they ask
Inquiring minds want to know
That’s what they say, but not for long, distracted
by planning dinner, remembering last night’s fight
No lessons there to draw from someone else,
not that mean a damn
You might wonder at that

Simpler here, but I’m prevented by language
from understanding their take on a
spiritless, dominated life controlled by others
All those heavy boots and heavy years
I smile to write that, examine
the domination of my life, lived free, or so
I thought, we all hear boots imagined
And I wonder at that

Friends and work here are different
from friends and work back there
Back there is where I come from, home is here
A meaningless distinction to you, it’s not to me
Work here is eager, pulls me,
quickly focused and slowly observed
A city of friends coming, friends going,
a constancy of turnover deprivation

A lot at stake in friendship, all of us
broke amidst baroque, circling wagons,
writing, wasting time,  investing time
Pull of the leash, looking up in wonder,
having coffee and talking it over
Standing in cold, lying in sun,
waiting for a  night-tram, enfolded by a city
And I wonder at that

What about your life, the one you chose
or allowed others to choose?
Does it warm you, let you lie in grass,
shake off the cold, like mine?
Are you lonely out there, or is someone loving you?
Is there a pull at your leash, will you write,
or has distance taken us too far?
I wonder about that, as well
Poetry Collection: The Smell of Tweed and Tobacco
This poem is included in
Jim Freeman's
poetry collection


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