Trusting the Light
Artists and tyrants have something in common.
This comes to me as I look at the moon
in its mute serenity above the street.
I just heard a dazzled part of me singing
Hey everyone, aren’t things looking up?
Even through the gun battles down here, bitter
winter creeping over from that other
hemisphere, across famine deserts,
in hospitals full of the shocked or weeping
amputees and psychotics—that kid,
the one who sees a squirrel or a peony
and dawdles before coming in from his chores,
that kid who is everywhere, soon a painter
or a despot fevered with the echo of lost beauty,
that kid who is any bloody fresh-born baby,
innocent as that bright dust that’s the moon,
he’ll be driven, hand to brush pen pistol,
his eye on the hillside light or on the ideal-
istic manifesto, a new ars
poetica, a color theory—it might be
the dream of Plato’s Republic on Earth
in the eye of a little Pol Pot looking out
to the sea on a summer day in Dover—
perfection, for a mountain of skulls.
The thought goes farther, luminous moon
in my eye: Could be the radiance first
seen on this kid’s mother’s brow he then seeks
and seeks. Ezra’s sweet apparition
on a platform in Paris—he sees the world
come clean of the Jews and their interest, never
mind the insensible smokestack stench
east in the distance. Beauty’s the quest!
Cezanne is painting the light off the cliffs—
he forgets the trees and the evidence
Officer Dreyfus was set up—
does the artist’s brush conduct this
ugliness? Must be a seam of such
innocence inside the hardness of Es
muss sein! And Friedrich finds such fine words
to propose the annihilation of the weak!
But oh, little Friedrich, your mother is
indisposed. Don’t you weep.
I think, I’ll look at the moon till dawn,
the one moon Mao, Adolph, Saddam,
Claude, Vincent, and my children have watched—
moon that forever does not even listen—
and by its unknowing brightness, imagine
I might find the difference between
trusting the light and forcing the lost
dream of it onto the mess of this life.
Jed Myers is a Philadelphian living in Seattle. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod International Journal, Golden Handcuffs Review, qarrtsiluni, Atlanta Review, Quiddity, The Monarch Review, Palooka, Fugue, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Rose Alley Press anthology Many Trails to the Summit, and elsewhere. By day he is a psychiatrist with a therapy practice and teaches at the University of Washington. By night he hosts the long-running open-mic cabaret NorthEndForum. He likes to weave poetry and music together, and sometimes does so with the ensemble Band of Poets.