Sean Riley

Because memory re-writes itself on every recalling, why not journal to note this change.  Not to ledger growth and diminishment but to see a bigger story we never knew we where in.


I am an Ape


I am an ape made of meat bone and some brain
wrestling between violence and wonder
whose intelligence is often humbled by rage
and best made plans spoiled by hunger

But there is truth in my blood
wisdom found deep in my breath
I was compelled from the garden
the day I got knowledge of death

so I built a clock to watch the minutes left
each morning my nothing is one day less far
in these brief hours I will honor my beginnings
I’m son of sod and ocean these all ashes from a star





Guest House


A loose retelling of Rumi's poem The guest house:

I dwell in a guest house owned by life.
Every morning this landlord brings yet another visitor.
Knock knock: here is sorrow and there joy.
Knock knock: today a very brief call from clarity.
Knock knock: come in lonely, enter hate.
I meet you all at the door with warm laughter
and I take you by the hand to sit with me.
You are all welcome and I am honored to share this time.
I am grateful for even the darkest visitor,
who often offers the brightest guide.





Warning Light


That warning dash light
the one always on, turns off
now I am worried

When the ear ringing
that never ever stops, does
I sound the alarm

The neighbor's guard dog
suddenly quits all barking
I look behind me

Before every storm there's calm
starting every fall, silence
hangings open with a prayer
and stillness is duty's call





Planes


Planes hit the buildings
Papers fall endlessly down
Receipt for hope torn





I Will Hope


I will hope
I will hope in the dark
I will hope when there is no spark
I will hope when all is dashed
I will hope when cuts the lash
I will hope when dawn is bright
I will hope when all is right
and then, I will hope still





Our Tent


It’s time to put down our spears
Forget our fears and bitter tears
And invite our brothers in

It’s time to extinguish the fires
Forgive the liars and their buyers
and let a new story begin

It’s time to open the tent
repair the rent return what’s spent
And invite our sisters to the table

It’s time to hold each other’s hand
we’re from the same land in the same band
This must we do while are still able





They Burned the Witch Today


They burned the witch today
Did you hear this bitch must pay
They lit the kindling, called her liar
Lets roast this witch on the fire

They brought her before the court
She sows lies and filth they report
And sullies the judge’s golden name
How dare she, let her pay the blame

The king weighed in: there's hell to bear
He scowled beneath his crown of hair
Yelling, "she's just another witch
Who’s only good is to scratch an itch"

Wasn’t that girl Joan of Arc a Witch?
At least she was burned at a switch
For telling a truth to an angry man
And inconveniencing his power plan

This witch today is just as brave
Maybe some democracy she'll save
I’d be proud of her regardless of the end
We need more of her for these times to mend





Free Will


I did not choose my parents nor did I select my past
I did not write the DNA that decides how long I will last
I could not influence luck's attendance in my plan
even my train of thought a leaderless caravan

So what domain is left where I’m truly free
Is my will my own to choose at the core of me?
Perhaps Calvin was right and its all been decided
and my self determination a fiction to be chided

Ah, what is that I smell coming from the kitchen
fresh cookies baking. taste them? Sure I’ll pitch in!
And just like that an existential crisis averted
so much for free will I’m predictably perverted





Bury my Father


I still bury my father from time to time
The first being 20 years ago
When my throat tightens and eyes sting
I push the burn deeper down
deeper into the still of my heart
not further away, but closer and closer

Before that first grave, only laughter had meaning
With each shovel of earth raised,
I begin to know the deeper joy only grief delivers
Now I’m the age he was when I knew him best
I long for his gentlel council, quick temper and final resolve
So I laid him to rest once more, and I am that much closer





Heart's keeper


You are my darling and the keeper of my heart.
My soul lives in the house of my heart
And you hold it from harm.

When I leave in the morning
Bound for the field of blood and poppies
My heart stays home in your hands.

If I am found and my life leaves, spilling to the ground.
I will not fear.
For the best of me, my heart, in your hands will remain.

Then, my heart, free from its bound to earth and clay,
Will grow and surround you
And keep you safe.

You will be forever loved . . . the keeper of my heart.