On Living
                                                                        —Richard Jones


First, you must suffer for a thousand years.
Then you must renounce suffering
and dedicate yourself to joy.
Your hands empty, wanting nothing,
you will wander in a forest of silence
and when at last you speak,
your first word will be yes
or grasshopper.
You will learn to tread on high towering clouds
and to fall—
simple as a stone—
to plummet and tumble straight down.
On your knees with a wire brush you will scrub
the marble floor of the world
and at day’s end
wash your cracked hands at a trough like a slave.
Though all is waste and desolation,
the moon will rise from desert sands
and cast light and shadow on your old draft horse,
your painted wagon, and your black tent with its wool blankets.
When the hour’s late
and nothing more can be done,
you will treasure the stillness and peace of the firelight
and sing your song.



Richard Jones

Richard Jones is the author of sixteen books of poetry, including Country of Air, A Perfect Time, King of Heats, The Blessing, and Stranger on Earth. Editor since 1980 of the literary journal Poetry East, he curates its many anthologies, such as ParisThe Last Believer in Words, and Bliss. In 2020, God willing, he will publish his 100th issue.

ISSN 2472-338X
© 2019