Sorrow, Meister Eckhart said; Why is it

Sorrow, Meister Eckhart said
Sorrow, Meister Eckhart said,
comes of wanting what you cannot have,
and of wanting there is no end.
But what then does it mean

to say I want the world for you?
Not everything’s available,
and of what is, there’s much
you really would not want.

The burning jet fuel coming down
like rain does no one any good,
and the clear linear beauty
of rocket fire pouring down

upon some godforsaken hill
is death to some. And the grief
of loving what you cannot have,
a girl maybe, a way of life,

takes its sorry place in line
behind the horrors that arrive
inevitably like older boys
who’ve spent time in prison.

What I want doesn’t seem
ever to have had a lot
to do with anything, but here
is what I want for you:

an educated, peaceful life
among the modest and the sane
but close enough to true toil
to know what it takes and takes away.

I’d like to fill your mind
with Eliot and teach you to love
the feel of infield dirt,
and I don’t want you to die,

but coffee in the cold dawn
is good, and you may be called upon
to fight, and sorrow has a way
of coming out to find you.


Why is it
Why is it I keep these things,
this calendar, a pocket kind,
the pages filled with random jottings
that might have mattered at the time,
scribbled in and barely legible
but clear enough to understand
on the fly back then, now valuable
only to show again the plans
that used to have significance,
or the name of a girl in Carson City
who never called me back, or a list
from five years ago today,
a week before my mother died,
of some vegetables I had to buy.