Monday, November 20, 2023



Land of Never-Ending Holes

I don't want you to leave.

I don't want you to leave this place I so love, where

    underbrush, jackrabbits,

        and the desert press in on us.

Waiting under a date palm, with a suitcase and cell phone,

        listening for the train whistle—this is how I picture you.

Don't strut or you will stumble.

Make your mess into a message.

Make your roof tight and your cothing sufficient,

        and you shall never be wanting if you value "the best

            property of all —

        friends" (Emerson)

Remember the Zen axiom: Nothing lasts, nothing is finished,

    and nothing is perfect.

Out there is a land of never-ending holes, where brown is the

    new green.

Out there are omnivorous, dazzling human voices—coarse

    cries, air falsettos, heady

        blues, soul, and solemn low rumbles—speaking and


It is never useless to say something or teach someone.

The obscure human soul—it is sad and happy at once.

Men sweep and stir up the dust, but women sprinkle water and

    settle it,

        sweetening the air.

Out there, it is swarming, venal, frivolous, vexing, crude, and


        but you must never cease to listen, look, and feel.

If you love a zebra, do not settle for a tapir.

Think of all you have so far as a shelter made of tarp and rope,

    and build

            something marvelous.

Uplift, transformation, radiance—when you turn the old horse

    toward them,

        he will always pick up his step.

See those bulbous clouds forming over the small San Gabriel


They are greater than any tanks or armored vehicles.

See out there beyond the ash, avocado, lemon, and peppertrees,

        a little trail ends at a highway leading to spin rooms and

            war rooms,

        but also there are bee spawn, motion dazzle, and

                maple syrup.

I don't want you to leave.

Out there, in the land of never-ending holes,    

        may those who love you love you, as in the proverb,

        but may God turn the hearts of those who cannot love you,

        and if he cannot turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles,

        so you will know them by their limping.


Henri Cole


Farrar, Straus and Giroux


    The finest poem in this fine book,

first published as a Claremont McKenna College

commencement poem. I would have liked to

been in the audience. 

[ BA ]