Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry, Writing

Day 16

You were wrong, Thomas Stearns, with your parchment voice,
Your cracked vowels, your indifferent style of reading,
And the hissing of your consonants, broken syllables.
January is the month which inflicts most violence
On kindness, sucks dry the well of human empathy,
Coming so hard on the heels of an invented season
Of caring and trumped-up empathy.

You were wrong, TS, with your snatched conversations
And imagined scenes of growth buried under the death
Of love and forgiving, mountains flattened by guilt.
January burgles the mind of its foraging intent, robs
Kindness from the barely lengthening days, plays vindictive
Tricks on the suffering of the chronically sad.

You were wrong, TSE, with your buttoned-up shirts, your
Tweed suits, in your sanctuaried office with your dusty papers,
Your well-chosen phrases and patterns, and your forgetfulness.
January holds out a bouquet of foreign flowers with one hand,
Clutches the red blossom of a dripping stiletto behind its back,
To strike just as a sigh of relief escapes its victims.

You were wrong, Thomas, to think that words can make everything
Seem whole in the pictures they paint of unwilling seasons
And patients and landscapes and soundscapes and
Deserted rooms and ebbing echoes and silent despair,
When the feeling lingers long after the words have faded.

And yet you were right, Thomas Stearns Eliot.
Love songs make better companions of us all.

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