how to measure a life


how many breaths?   roughly you know, over 600 million by the clock.

how many years sleeping?   20 perhaps, not counting when awake.

how many marriages?   one, just one.

divorces?   yea, one and we saw that coming.

how many homes?   more than ten.   shallow remembering.

gone to SF North Beach on a bus?   yea, Ferlingetti wasn’t home.

lost my cat?   don’t talk about that.

gone mostly bald?   once yea, but it took months to realize.

what I rather do than eat?   write.

children?   no.   none.   decided early on in life.   too early probably.

parents?   that’s biology.   but only mom stuck around.

how many times in school?   six, counting kindergarten.

how many women one way or another?   six as well.   coincidence?

how many times in Boston?   once.   to visit Dan.

how many times reincarnated?   only one that I know about.

how many times I saw dad?   none.

times I was offered paradise?   once.   care to guess my choice?

how many poems written?   five hundred and counting.

how many years writing, for real?   14 more or less.

number of women I’ve lived with?   two and a half.   no, won’t explain.

how often I wanted to live in Monterey?   endlessly.

visits from pneumonia?   twice.   I lived.

diseases wanting to be the end of me?   two.   we’ll see.

times I refused to kill when asked?   once.   forever.

times we let the spinnaker out?   a few.   like being on glass.

times I lost my keys?   maybe twice.   always, always they go same pocket.

times depressed?   years, many years.   but I gave it up for Lent.

changed my name?   yea, middle to first.   good idea.

jobs?   none that counted much.   except for this one here, my last.

             writing you.
 
 
 
 
 

poem to someone I don’t know, number two

I could wonder what it would be to share a kitchen with you.  spoons and pots and plates, and pleats.  brushing against you casually without a second thought (well alright, a few).  to lounge on the sofa, book in hand, you reading yours or adrift in meditative intent across the room.  or to awake, in bed, your face horizon’s light.
  
here’s why the moon adores the dawn, surrendering.  maybe all is only one cup’s measure of truth.  not this day the intimacy of soft familiar shoes, but yes, wanting
to be.  yours, sincerely.

read footnotes about this poem