Waiting in the Promised Land

Won in translation[1]

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” William Hutchison Murray misquotes Goethe*

That yellowed clipping in my cubicle
pulled me through dreamless days
of paper-pushing bootstrap plans

I dreamed of people needing nothing
except a place to write, embraced
by breeze-tossed trees and birdsong

traveled with my mug to the next
desk in the next job and beyond,
from dream job to dream home

we built a retreat encompassed
by fields filled with turkey and deer,
a perfect writing-place, unpeopled

from wetland to desert,
across the country and back
waiting in some box to be found

and now, in urban desert I dream
of people walking through open doors
into my promised land

its inspiration, refreshing
as sleep, begins afresh each morning.


*It is said that Goethe never wrote those words, and that Mr. Murray merely remembered a “loose” translation.

The best way to read this poem is with two voices, one for each side. Or you could take the left column first, then the right, and then again zigzagging across the page.

[1] Translation: FORMAL•TECHNICAL the process of moving something from one place to another. “the translation of the relics of St. Thomas of Canterbury”


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