I never regret
not reading the news.

The front page headlines written
by an aware individual
who keeps delight on the simmer
at having found the story of the missing child-rape case
first.
The television stations,
projecting visions of chaos
injecting emotion to hype it all up
get you going, get the fires lit, get the smoke signals out
honey, we’re not going anywhere for the next year
at least
I swear,
the world keeps getting worse and worse
we’ll just stay here and pay our income taxes and chalk our homes with toys and canned food
and we’ll call it all good.

I’m assured the world is worse for the wear,
be careful, pigeon, the world is danger– 
I’m told to look for
the plumes of self-sacrifice, the mass exodus
of human morality, the carnage eroding
the minds of the gentle, til no one
is gentle.
And hardly a soul is, these days;
have you read the news?

I never regret
not reading the news.

It isn’t
that I couldn’t care less—
no, not that, not that in the least,
for the secret to this soul sauce is
I care
so deeply.
Deep to the toes, to the toe bones,
to the guts of my toe bones
which seem to do most of my thinking,
these days, forget the “gut instinct”,
I follow those toe bones anywhere.

I write, I spin, I record, and spout
these chance encounters with ‘paths of affinity’—
like this man, Pete, I met
at the top of a tricky path while hiking Pirongia the other day.
In the thick of the trees, submerged under skyless day
the bog, the foul mud to your eye caps, the demons were loud and
we smiled—and the whole world was
home for a time, a little bell of a time, a
shelter tickled with the dance
of rhythmic English against the fine Kiwi woods.

Or the South African couple,
Vicky and Pieter,
seeking, souls searching for something
searching through outlets of curiosity, of taste
and see, let’s see what’s there, let’s get there, man,
do you want to come? Come along?
Come with us, come with us—
we’ll explore, we’ll get somewhere
what else do we have to do
with life itself, with the aroma of air, with the breath
we share, what else is there for us to do?

But I’m assured
the world is worse for the wear.
To look for it, you’ll see it,
you’ll see it
just wait—didn’t you hear?
Didn’t you read?
Didn’t you smell
that man, walking past, he’s one of them
I swear it,
he’s one of them.

But here’s the thing,
which I’m coming to find
through chance conversations
with paths of affinity:

We see
what we look for.

It’s not self-selected ignorance,
it’s not denial—not corroded perspective
based solely on privilege—
it’s giving the world, the people,
the smilers, the hikers, the prancers, the funny men
and women who make me long to be like them, the kindly
old gent who offers me a lift in his well loved jeep,
the seat covers lined with sheepskin, the woman
in the square with the slicked back hair
who asks me if I’m okay, if those tears which weep ash
on a broken face, if those need to come
or if she can be of service—

it’s giving the world a chance
before I deem it damned.

So I don’t regret.

 


A reader brings his or her own perspective to a poem and gives it meaning.

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