This Gratitude News | Paul Hostovsky

©2023 Miroslava Panayotova

This Tree

I never noticed this tree before.
Was it always here?
Look how huge it is. Even the upper branches
as thick around as grown men—
strongmen in a circus with thigh-thick arms
holding up the canopy. You can’t
miss this tree, and yet I think I’ve been missing it
for years, driving past it on my way to work
without seeing it. Now my car is
running quietly over there where
I pulled over because this tree
was standing here where I never
saw it. I see it now though. I see it all
now: How I couldn’t see before because
of the understory--all those stories I was telling myself
were true. All the grasping and the wanting
and the dying. But now I think
there must have been something dead inside of me
if I couldn’t see this tree. It’s so
beautiful I want to die. I want to live
differently. I want to take this tree
back to my car, back into my life, keep it
always in view. But of course that’s impossible.
That would be as impossible as this tree
being here and yet not being here.
Which is why I can’t stop staring at it.

Late for the Gratitude Meeting

The guy in front of me in traffic
is letting everyone in,
waving at the cars like a policeman
or a pope—
and I really have no patience for all
the indulgence
and magnanimity at my expense

because I’m late for the gratitude meeting,
which is only an hour long.
And if I miss the first ten minutes
of silent meditation I’m going to scream,
because it’s my favorite part and because
it helps me remember to breathe.
And I’m going to throttle this guy

if he doesn’t stop deferring
to all of the trundling humanity
turning left onto Main
at this intersection where I’m fuming,
not feeling the love,
not feeling the gratitude,
feeling only resentment and disdain

because I have the right of way.
Would you rather be right
or have peace? Let go, I can hear them say
at the gratitude meeting three blocks away,
striking the rim of the Tibetan singing bowl,
which begins vibrating,
and keeps on vibrating,
like this steering wheel I can’t stop clenching.

The Good News

The good news is
you’re wrong.
About everything.
The bad news is
not what you thought.
The good news is
not what you thought.
That’s the good news.
And it’s greater
than you know.
And it’s greater
than you can imagine–
you can’t imagine
being wrong about
everything. That’s why
the good news is
so unimaginable.
For starters, you’re wrong
about who you are–
about what you are,
and where you are,
and what you are doing,
and what you think is being
done to you. I don’t
know about you but
for some of us
that’s very good news.
I’m not what I thought.
You’re not what I thought.
You’re not what you thought
either. And neither is
your mother. You needn’t
figure it out. You needn’t
bother. You need do nothing
but plead ignorance
at every turn,
and keep returning,
keep opening
to the great
good news.

©2023 Paul Hostovsky
All rights reserved

Paul Hostovsky…

…has a recent collection of poems, Mostly (FutureCycle Press, 2021). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter

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