poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded as part of the Poem-a-Day series, September 16, 2015
About this Poem 

“This poem emerged from a meditation practice during which I allow ideas, phrases, and images to drift by while I sit, and afterwards I write down what remains with me. Raised a devout Christian, I was taught to think of suffering as a moral good, an allegorical narrative ending in eventual redemption; chronic illness with no discernible end has led me to question and let go of whatever remains in me of such ideas. Thus on this particular day—a high pain day—my mind kept returning to the profound difference between a suffering that’s supposed to lead somewhere as opposed to a suffering that is simply our shared condition.”
Brian Teare

When we are on the right track we are rewarded with joy

wretched thou art
wherever thou art


          I sit and work on a line and lean into the pain my mind
              continues
          trying to think and all I come up with is a texture without
              ideas


and to whatever
thou turnest —


          the body I have is the body I once had but they could not
              differ more
          the teacher Agnes says abstract form holds meaning
              beyond words

  
I turn the pages
of the old book


          the way certain feelings come to us with no discernible
              worldly cause  
          the teacher Buddha says the practitioner agitated by
              thoughts

 

I have not held
since childhood

 

          makes stronger their bondage to suffering and the sting
              of becoming
          during the time illness makes me feel most tied to the
              material world


its binding broken
its brittle paper

         I sit in meditation and sunlight from the window calms
             my nausea
         since the emergency I feel such sharp tenderness toward
             common objects

   
its dog-eared corners
torn at the folds —

 

          sort of attached to the white wall white door white dust
              on the wood floor
          mostly pain is an endless present tense without depth or
              discernible shape


miserable are all
who have not


          an image or memory lends it a passing contour or a sort of
              border
          the white door open against the white wall snuffs
              headache’s first flare

 

a sense of present
life’s corruption


          I remember a man patiently crying as doctors drained his
              infected wound
          lying on the gurney in my hospital gown we suffered
              from having been being


but much more
miserable are those

 
          adjacent and precarious the way a practitioner sits alone
              on a cushion
          resting alone unwearied alone taming himself yet I was
              no longer alone

 

in love with it —

 

Copyright © 2015 by Brian Teare. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 16, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Brian Teare. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 16, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Brian Teare

Brian Teare

Born in Alabama in 1974, Brian Teare is the author of several poetry collections, including The Room Where I Was Born (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003), which was awarded both the Brittingham Prize and the 2004 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry.

by this poet

poem

 

Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.

2
poem

"As his unlikeness fitted mine"—

so his luciferous kiss, ecliptic : me pinned beneath lips bitten as under weight of prayer, Ave—but no common vocative, no paradise above, and we not beholden to a name, not to a local god banking fever blaze his seasonal malady of flowers—

poem

so it came to me to 
carry the abandoned 
mattress to the attic      

                         a month dead my father
		         waited hillside in the field 
 			 surrounding his house 

I was glad to see him
to remember when
the fathers seemed