Keep It Simple

DSC_0008At the risk of being identified as the underachiever I probably am, I’m sharing two poems here that grabbed my attention recently with their remarkable originality. They’re about downplaying things, avoiding dramatic overtures in life and especially in love.

These poems struck me as much for their heterodoxy regarding the laws of love and romance as they did for their rather inspired realism.

The images of love in these poems are not about comparing thee to a summer day. Instead they reflect a view of love that doesn’t need the fireworks and spine tingles and violins at the balcony. Life and love are quotidian tasks with attention to detail and faithfulness and being present. It’s the little things – but everyday.

In spite of themselves, the poems – “Deceiving the Gods” by Ellen Bass and “Take Love for Granted” by Jack Ridl – have a certain spark of romance as well.

Deceiving the Gods
by Ellen Bass

The old Jews rarely admitted good fortune.
And if they did, they’d quickly add kinahora—
let the evil eye not hear. What dummkopf
would think the spirits were on our side?
But even in a tropical paradise
laden with sugarcane and coconut,
something like the shtetl’s wariness exists.
In Hawaii, I’m told, a fisherman
never spoke directly, lest the gods
arrive at the sea before him.
Instead he’d look to the sky,
the fast-moving clouds, and say,
I wonder if leaves are falling in the uplands!
Let us go and gather leaves.
So, my love, today let’s not talk at all.
Let’s be like those couples
eating silently in restaurants,
barely a word the entire meal.
We pitied them, but now I see
they were always so much smarter than we were.

Take Love for Granted
by Jack Ridl

Assume it’s in the kitchen,
under the couch, high
in the pine tree out back,
behind the paint cans
in the garage. Don’t try
proving your love
is bigger than the Grand
Canyon, the Milky Way,
the urban sprawl of L.A.
Take it for granted. Take it
out with the garbage. Bring
it in with the takeout. Take
it for a walk with the dog.
Wake it every day, say,
“Good morning.” Then
make the coffee. Warm
the cups. Don’t expect much
of the day. Be glad when
you make it back to bed.
Be glad he threw out that
box of old hats. Be glad
she leaves her shoes
in the hall. Snow will
come. Spring will show up.
Summer will be humid.
The leaves will fall
in the fall. That’s more
than you need. We can
love anybody, even
everybody. But you
can love the silence,
sighing and saying to
yourself, “That’s her.”
“That’s him.” Then to
each other, “I know!
Let’s go out for breakfast!”


3 thoughts on “Keep It Simple

  1. An absolutely remarkable piece in every which way!

    Both poems are beautiful and profound in the simplicity of topic. Made me smile as I thought of how I sometimes say to myself that I fear the evil eye of people!

    Your photograph is equally brilliant.

    All in all, bravo!

    • On an extremely light-hearted note, it made me think of a political slogan from the 90s, I think, that went by the acronym of KISS (keep it simple, stupid!)

      Again, good work, and keep it up!

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