vox poetica – In the Past

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In the Past

10.23.19 Posted in today's words by

John Grey’s most recent poem to appear here was “On the Red Line” (March 2019).

In the Past
By John Grey

The past boasts both
brief lifetimes of roses
and the eternity of a plastic bag.
It’s accommodating.
It fits people we all know
and the ones that I and a few others know.
Dickens and my mother.
Hitler and that first girl I kissed—
it’s like a memory
the size of the universe.
No, bigger than that—
it’s every universe that’s ever been,
strutting its sheer size
but unable to push the others out.

It’s long since outgrown the present.
How I wish it were smaller.
But right now it’s too huge
for my puny self to even see.
If only there were maps and routes,
ways to explore other than
via this cross-breed guide
of ancient evidence and imagining.
There’s good times in there.
But I can’t get at them.
There’s fine people.
They’re in the blood,
just not in the room.

And the past keeps adding to itself.
It slaps on the things we’ve done
like mud on an adobe hut.
People die and they report directly.
Time won’t stick around.
It passes, sucked up by all time ever been,
And it grabs everything happening
that it can lay its hands on as it goes—
which is everything.

I’ve heard people accused of living too much in the past
I wish they’d tell me how they do it

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