The Poets

I came to hear the poets:
those whose words grace pages
and who live lives
deeper than mine,
hoping they will lead me,
out of myself,
into another
a parallel universe
where another version of me
lives and loves freely.

But I am only an amateur tracker
barely able to recognize wolf footprints.
I falter,
second-guess myself....
I lose the tracks
that veer off
into uncharted terrain,
into the messy thicket
of life’s underbrush
where I sense the animal presence
hidden in the secret society
of those whose words grace pages.

I wonder if I will ever
become skillful and courageous enough
to follow the tracks
into that other world.

Afterwards, leaving Barnes and Noble,
walking into the light of the full moon,
I feel myself transforming:
growing snout and tail,
spine bending at the hip,
arms becoming legs,
hands becoming paws,
fur sprouting over all
the years forgotten
and I run
into the shadows;
into the night;
into the thicket.

I already know
it will be gone
a dream fragment
lingering somewhere
just outside of reach.
I already know
I must come again
to hear the poets;
let them point out
the wolf tracks
I won’t recognize
as my own.

This photo of a coyote, taken at Yosemite National Park, is the closest I have to a wolf on the wild in my own personal photo library.

This photo of a coyote, taken at Yosemite National Park, is the closest I have to a wolf on the wild in my own personal photo library.

The poets came to me almost in one piece after hearing a poetry reading at Barnes and Noble on a full moon night in 2003. By that time, I was committed to writing poetry. I was sharing my poems in classes regularly but without claiming the title of a poet. “The Poets” metaphorically declares my identity as a poet, but it took another ten years before I stood in front of an audience and said, “I am a poet” in 2013. The poem highlights a sense of having two selves: one lives a surface life of habits and hobbies, of interests and interactions on a daily basis. This is the little “s” self. The other one, the capital “S” Self, lives a deeper, richer life of which I am only faintly aware.

I often feel the larger Self beckoning me to step into that other life and put more skin in the game, but I fear I will lose the first life in the process. This larger Self lives out the truth of my soul while I drag my feet. It marches on despite my fears and fantasies and no matter the odds or obstacles. My story is a dance between the twin forces of self-denial and self-embrace while the soul pushes on toward a greater destiny which often seems a puzzle to me and I only get hints and glimpses of magnificence.

--Excerpted from my upcoming book,
The Work of Being Yourself.

The Poets appears in my first book of poetry, Heaven In Our Hearts, available on Amazon:

and also available as an audio book in MP3 format:

© 2002-2016 Nick LeForce
All Rights Reserved