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Alan Botsford – Ⅱ

After Reading Dante                           



(20 years later)





paradise, Dante taught, is a parade

you wished like hell you could join, and did,

were the footfalls and children’s voices enough

to send you reeling back to that essence made

real again, made contact with not later than imagined

nor in some parallel world but right here and now,

fertile with the riches hell offers you, that you would

do anything to accept, knowing your share of it

is your life to be transmuted, lifted into this light

burning with all the shame of its wanting to be felt,

scene of a tortured making made to daimonic order

where likeness is a picture met in the infernal mind

that, helpless in its obsessions, aches for you hereafter






with enthusiasm

unwaned, uncurbed,

he climbed out

of being

taken in, shrugging off

the slashed future, the withering

squalor of the past– adversity’s

sacred limits—to catch

a glimmer

in a net

of looking, raised from

the debts

he swims in, family and all,

for a definition

changed (loud and promised),

a patch of the possible,

a glimpse, warm and whole, of

that rising, that hard-to-miss

glow of evil

riches no more saved

than spent

in what the world means (or would mean),

words found flowing

into a next nature, one sound

at a time, like a prison break

from subterranean oneness

to variety’s paradise, home

to a nudge of wonder

dripping enchantment, gleaming with

once upon a rhyme.





To live absently in the present sometimes,

waking up in tree-surrounded spaces which

like the dark wood you thread yourself through,

to make fellowship with green and grey too,

colors a spectrum settles on in a blue day,

absent the stars at night, clouded over by

whatever happens to be missing, like who

you would be or have been during the climb

up this hope you hold onto, a laddered way

you have of living in and out of your dying

to know what comes next, past the future

thought of as a dream you’d be willing to have

all over again, were it not the same in the hours

you spend waiting for the path to lead you

back to the ongoing change, long and memorable,

that nobody else but you is present to,

now that you, having come this far, can accept

the height and depth it shows, minus the mountain.