January 1, 2021

David Mason

NOTE TO SELF

To be old and not to feel it is a gift.
To be supplanted and not to care. So be it.
The birds are not supplanted by the air,
the air, what’s left of it, by flood or fire.

The effort of a life, the wasted hour,
the kind word given to a stranger’s child
are understood as kin and disappear.
Time to be grass again. Ongoing. Wild.

from Rattle #69, Fall 2020

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David Mason: “Momentous events occasioned these poems. I am retiring from teaching after 30 years, and I am immigrating to Australia, specifically my wife’s home island, Tasmania. The journeys involved are retrospective, involved with summing up and moving on. In both of these poems, identity dissolves, as if change itself were rubbing away old delusions. Or so it seems.”

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December 30, 2020

David Mason

LONG HAUL

In airports everywhere I see
people I think I know.
Someone I used to be married to,
someone who’s dead now.

That one I wrote about,
and blush at what I said.
That one I met at a conference—
no, he too is dead.

I had a friend who looked like that
when we were twenty.
If I spoke to him I’m sure
he’d tell me plenty.

Another looks at me as if
I’m a familiar ghost
then turns away, discarding me
among the rest.

And when we fly, the earth below
and all identities
are cloud or glimpses of the sea
or blazing cities

in the dark, our wing a blinking eye
until the clock unwinds
the dream, until the dream unbinds
all that is passing by.

from Rattle #69, Fall 2020

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David Mason: “Momentous events occasioned these poems. I am retiring from teaching after 30 years, and I am immigrating to Australia, specifically my wife’s home island, Tasmania. The journeys involved are retrospective, involved with summing up and moving on. In both of these poems, identity dissolves, as if change itself were rubbing away old delusions. Or so it seems.”

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September 26, 2018

David Mason

A CABBIE IN AMERICA

He was from Rwanda, from Senegal—
there had been much motion in his life.
And did he miss his country? All
the time, and yet he lived here with his wife

and children, who were very good at school.
I said I’d always dreamed of Africa
and wondered if he thought me an old fool
for saying so. No, no, but it was far.

So many things were far, so many things
we wished for for our families
were far. And we were men, not kings.
He’d spoken French since he was three

and now the French was also far,
his tongue was struggling with American.
Once, he too wished to be a writer.
But couldn’t he go to school again?

It’s not too late, I told him as I paid
and finger-signed his little screen.
But how did I know whether it was late,
or half of what this gentle man had seen?

from Rattle #60, Summer 2018

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David Mason: “I write from the margins, and I am interested in people who live in the margins. The anecdote behind this poem is true, the cab driver I met in Colorado Springs. I hope I run into him again. All my life I have known and lived among immigrants of one sort or another, and this kind and gentle man, whatever history had driven him here, had a lightness of manner that I loved.” (web)

 

David Mason is the guest on Rattlecast #64! Click here to watch …

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