Barry Spacks




THE SECOND ARROW

 

Say you have an enemy,

could be just some notion full of woe,

maybe no more than a passing thought

thwacks an arrow toward your heart.

                       

Okay. You'll suffer from this arrow;

it meant you harm, now fallen at your feet.

So what do you do? Confess:

here's what most of us mostly do,

 

we stoop, take up the spent arrow,

and plunge it again into the wound,                 

improving, extending a hurt

become a cherished possession.

 

This is known as "the second arrow."

The first we might see as life itself

with all its joys and miseries;

the second . . . a chosen affliction.

 

So much has been kind to me . . .

so many . . . I couldn't see it once

but see it now. This is called

"refusing the second arrow."



A PRAISING


Socrates, Aristotle taught us to cherish

in days before all "data sets"—

the "sapiens" in our species-name,

the best of us, the smartest.

 

Praise to those who know and know,

in their labs, in the fields, at their lectures striving

to pass it on, move it along:

Devotion's their word, passionate labor's

 

meticulous exactitude.

O Wisdom-Ones, good on you!

As my singer-hero Tom Waits rasps it:

            "Everybody row!"                   




 

Barry Spacks has published several novels and stories, three poetry CDs, and ten poetry collections while teaching literature and writing for years at M.I.T. & U.C. Santa Barbara. His most recent book of poems, Food for the Journey, appeared from Cherry Grove in August 2008.










                                    

 

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