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While the Body Lives On

I have known the feeling, known the longing,
kept it hidden far under the breast, of the hanging
death of the self, and have known it all quite long
now, of how it is not I who I walk around, no,
not at all.

Ten years ago, maybe eleven, they had me sprawled,
stretched out, mechanized, and there was nothing
to do but die, just out and out desist, and yet
my body lived.

It's not such a great trick, to die while the body
lives, for after all, the dead people do the opposite
all the time -- their bodies die while their soul
flies off. They do it all the time: one mass
drops, the better part goes forth.

The real trick is to know the feeling, know
the longing, then find something good
to do with it all; not an easy trick, but
the one to do, so we all must conjure
a way to resurrect ourselves while
the body lives on.


Much courage is needed, much
yearning is needed, to be born.

The fabric must be parted --
like a shoot pushing, pushing,
from the bulb, through the loam --
by desire.

You do not yearn for despair,
yet it is here. You do not crave
loneliness, yet it can't be avoided,
out here . . . these are burdens
bodies must bear.

Rare are the bodies who provide
more pleasure than pain throughout
a life, so when I spoke of desire,
it is not the yearning for a body
I meant.

Instead you must want
a refinement to the soul, an odd desire
that takes hundreds of years to create
in someone who has once died
and got the past ordeal completed.

The Pounding of Ideas

Ideas are rarely born pristine, bold
thoughts never appearing cherubic.

Malformed is how the greatest concepts
strike contemporaries, for most world-
changing religions or philosophies
generally get their founders murdered.

The same is true for lesser ideas, only
with a weaker form of homicide.

Familiarity with the creator makes it
difficult to discern pearls from warts,
and time is just as cumbersome as distance
when identifying jewels.

Fulton's Folly was clearly folly to both
those who knew him and those who shared
his same decade but a different continent.

Although with luck the creator can quickly
describe his vision in the midst of derision.
Imagine how the naked wheel must have looked
to our prehistoric brethren until it was married
to a cart.

Some final traits of this elusive sprite, idea,
can be seen in how one era judges a prior one.
It's easy to discern the foolishness of each
generation in its rejection of those ideas we
now use every day. And one can quickly see
the remorse we feel for those creators who
somehow got themselves crucified, yet it is
nearly impossible to look forward in time
to determine which nails we ourselves pound
in, pound in.

The Limits of Love

It is not in you, as a finite being, to love
what is not tangible. You love best what
loves you back without questions.

Young children, or dogs, will happily
perform this function.

It is not in you to love what you cannot
touch, what will refuse to touch you back.
Your hands yearn for other hands, your flesh
desires flesh, your mind must understand
the recipient mind, or at least believe so.

We are no good at theology, even the wisest
of us, for no worship survives more than several

You could have done this better had you been angelic,
but such requires better stuff than clay . . .

yet you try and try, and though you never find
the adequate love, these perennial attempts
are why the universe loves you so, for that much
is in you, and no one else.

(c) Ward Kelley 2003

Ward Kelley

With more than 1400 of his poems appear in journals world wide you could say Ward is prolific! He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee whose publication credits include such journals as: Plainsongs, Another Chicago Magazine, Rattle, Midstream, Zuzu's Petals, Ginger Hill, Sunstone, Pif, Whetstone, Melic Review, AnotherSun, Thunder Sandwich, Potpourri and Skylark. He was the recipient of the Nassau Review Poetry Award for 2001. Kelley is the author of two paperbacks: "histories of souls," a poetry collection, and "Divine Murder," a novel; he also has an epic poem, "comedy incarnate" on CD and CD ROM.