At Fourteen

At fourteen, I thought less about the future
and, unaware of Buddhism, lived in the moment.
Even a day was usually unplanned, spontaneous,
open to what the universe had planned for me.

If life is like a sonnet, the turn occurred when
the future became my focus and the present
rushed by out of control, and the past
became nostalgia, a read book fondly remembered.

At fourteen, I believed, without proof, in eternity.
The days unfolded unbidden and I was content
in thinking at some point I would be able to see

That fourteen-year-old’s future is my present,
slipping away from what I wanted it to be,
and even partially my past, now already spent.


​Better pleasure than pain.

Better a cemetery than a hospital.

Better the campus than the classroom.

Better dreams than sleep.

Better that I write the poem than think about writing it.

Better that I recite the poem than write it.

Not telling you the truth is better

than revealing truth that makes nothing better.

Pleasures are best when found accidentally.

Better that pleasure be given than received –

though giving can mean receiving, which is even better.

This poem uses anaphora and epistrophe. Anaphora simply means the repetition of the same word (or cluster of words) at the beginning of multiple lines of verse in the same poem. Epistrophe is its counterpart: the repeated words appear at the end of lines. It also uses symploce which is when successive lines contain both an anaphora and an epistrophe.