Thursday, August 10, 2006

unfinished business

For the topic of "unfinished business," I decided to repost this poem that I posted in January. Life is unfinished business and sometimes I need to recite this poem to myself to keep my priorities straight. The dichotomy, the contradictions, the polar opposites of life are reflected in this poem which has been a favorite for so many years.

Advice to my Son
by Peter Meinke

The trick is, to live your days
as if each one may be your last
(for they go fast, and young men lose their lives
in strange and unimaginable ways)
but at the same time, plan long range
(for they go slow: if you survive
the shattered windshield and the bursting shell
you will arrive
at our approximation here below
of heaven or hell).

To be specific, between the peony and the rose
plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes;
beauty is nectar
and nectar, in a desert, saves -
but the stomach craves stronger sustenance
than the honied vine.

Therefore, marry a pretty girl
after seeing her mother;
show your soul to one man,
work with another,
and always serve bread with your wine.

But son,
always serve wine.
And my own poem...

Unfinished Business

I will perform the daily chores
and rejoice in the sunflowers.
I will unclench my teeth,
Slip into poetry and release
The anxiety for the living and the dead.
Practice "open the window to the moon,"
but continue "push hands"
and daily penances.

Thanks, January (Poet Mom, not the month as above)for the inspiration. The two quoted phrases are Tai Chi references.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing both poems--love th imagery in the second stanza of the first, and I love the quiet reflection in yours. Peace, and keep writing! :)

  2. I like the contrast between the nectar and the veggies!

  3. I enjoyed reading both of these. Thanks for posting! I always enjoy your posts.

  4. I do think it's those Tai Chi references that personalize the poem, they make it very unique and interesting. Thanks for posting!

  5. Your poem is amazing. So economical yet speaks volumes. Thank for your sharing both poems.

    I'm glad you decided to share your work today :)

  6. I liked both very much...i liked your anthem of everyday chores. An alanon friend used to call me, when I was deep in depression. She would ask me if I had done my dishes yet. I would weep, no. i can't today. She would tell me to get up and do them, "one dish at a time." That humbles me to this day.

  7. I love your poem, Jen.

    (If we ever meet in person will you show me how to do some Tai Chi?)

  8. I like both of these. The line "release the anxiety for the living and the dead" really speaks to my particular demons.


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