The poems in The Gentle Man were composed between 1999 and 2001. The title poem speaks to those of us who seek to simplify our lives by enriching what it is we give to others, especially what we offer them in kindness and devotion. If the very act of love is patient and wise, then those who are fortunate enough to receive it are blessed by its gift and know, quite naturally, what to offer in return.
And yet, when that love somehow cannot be met through blindness, happenstance, history, remorse, or sorrow, we are habitually haunted by past apparitions who remind us that our need for affection, and a place called home, is an inclination not easily forgotten. Be they “Broken Heats,” “Photograph (circa 1960),” “Your Father’s Ghost,” “Last Request,” or “Locomotive to Hell,” these poems address what it means to constantly search for meaning both inside and outside of ourselves—to travel down tracks in an attempt to discover or rediscover our identity. By doing so, we examine what went wrong in our testament to friendship and love and how we can still approach the longing and desire that resides in each of us, applying for “Forgiveness” as a starting point.
If by the mere act of consequence, we can keep the solemn prayer alive—this striving for peace through reconciliation, then we ultimately retain a chance at the relief that so often escapes us and keeps us at bay with ourselves along the dangerous curves we face. Perhaps, then, “The Cost of Being Me” will not be so great, the sacrifice so difficult to bear, as we turn the bedcovers down and read the next page of the book we continue to write, night after night after night. And in the end, hopefully, certainly mercifully, we come to understand that “The Gentle Man” and what he entails is all we’ve ever wished to know—and become.