On wisdom from old words and joy (two original poems)

(c) Thomas Tolkien
(c) Thomas Tolkien via Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomtolkien/10384180214/

I searched for jewels of joy

I combed my mental beach for years looking for rare shells.

One day, while looking for the witch variety with dark and fiery whorls, I found another – of grooves in the pocket and designs of drumming when I was seven years old, basking in Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones.

Where are your shells?

(J. Andrew, McKee; July, 2014)

* * *

Pulled by old poems (J. Andrew McKee, July 2014)

The poems of long-dead men and women
call to me magnetically,
well above the din of pomp and responsibility,
washing away the tarnish
from lack-luster tending,
helping prepare for the varnish
that my time has levied
for those deep, often dark arts,
that I stir with one hand,
while reading Adonis and Venus,
twirling with Basho and Rumi,
or raising eyebrows with Tranströmer and Lao-Tzu,
then letting that fiery witch
take the reigns and play
with the Wild Man underneath,


then go on dancing, and that pause,
like the distance –  silence  – between tracks,
uninterrupted though by anticipation –
Kabir limitless wellspring, garden mind-blowing –


slow-cooks a resilient confidence
that after years is blooming in spicy,
intermingling aromas at the cusps of my nostrils,
and now flows cocked back like burst olfactory lava,
scorching and laying waste
the gray filmy detritus
that fell unconsciously
onto my way of living.

Scrub away, dear soul,
to see the un-seeable, moving gems
that glimmer
just beyond touching or knowing.

* * *

Editor’s update:  An audience member asked for more information about the above poets and references.  Please find below some starter links:

  1. William Shakespeare’s poem, “Adonis and Venus
  2. Basho’s Haiku: Selected Poems” (Translated by David Barnhill)
  3. A great introduction to the “spiritual” poems of Rumi, Kabir, Tranströmer, and many others — with some interpretation and a helpful thematic organization — is Robert Bly’s, “The Soul is Here for its Own Joy
  4. “Wild Man” and “witch” energies echo the mythology-as-psychology discussed by writers like Robert Bly (e.g., see “Iron John: A Book About Men” and “The Human Shadow and What Stories Do We Need?“) and Robert A. Johnson (and ultimately harking back to Carl Jung)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: