Poems Given to Mia


Gary Dorman Wiggins

1 April 1976




I was your love.

                                I was a pool.

When you looked at me,

                                                You saw only your reflection.


Your laughter destroyed the silent stillness of my love

As a schoolboy’s stone defiles the sleeping smoothness

Of a summer pool.

No more than shimmering ripples shall you now receive from me.

For still you try to touch me,

And you laugh,

                                And I disappear.


Your love for me was salt.

When I ran into your arms,

You ran into my wounds,

                                                   And I wept.

Only then were we as one.


Where shall you run?


Spring 1965; reworked, 8 April 1972





Even the least of the imperceptible exists.

Craven, the beast loves a vegetable abyss.





“What odor has a new-born breeze?”

Ask a garbage man.


April 1967





A “NO SMOKING” sign sneered from the wall,

Reminding me of many bygone butts.


6 April 1967




If you think you’ve found a bedbug within your cockroach pie,

Despair not.

For such is the kingdom unleavened.

Life strings itself out in ells,

Not minute little measurements,

Signifying nothing.


20 April 1967




Sitting, plundered in thought,

Trying to relegate my life,

Examining an ash of a pent-down emotion,

Contemplating a sole in my strife,

I try to FLY!


I’m exuberant!

It’s insurmountable!

Shouldn’t we all have walls

Around the cemeteries of our hearts?


29 May 1967





They say the little toe won’t be around much longer.

It doesn’t serve much purpose anyway . . .

My little toe!


29 May 1967




Is it strange to value trivial things?

To sit beside you, share your thoughts—whispered puffs of air that caress my ear

As you lean toward me in youthful glee?

You, with your unattainability,

Have become my only goal in life.


I’ve fooled you many times.  I hope it will last.

Absence of physical contact is compensated by that

Which past passionate embraces have seemed to lack.


Never have I kissed, believing I loved.

Never afterwards could I know.


Strange writhing mental contortion must have forced

This wretched abortion:

A match broken in two—one end flares,

Burns to the middle and dies.

The other remains completely unscorched.

Such have been all past affairs.


Perhaps love is an attempt at total deliverance—or possibly total combustion.


Fall 1967





Nurtured by nothingness,

Growth is retarded, but not this. 

It lives, grasping at the least significance.

I would seek, but never reap.

I would sow, but never know.

Revelation has such a beautiful finality

To one spawned in the banality

Of Life


November 1967




A heart attack befell a trumpet valve.

At the height of a CRESCENDO—abrupt dimuendo.

Silence, frantically seeking companionship,

Released its hold, overflowed,

Burst forth in the heart, complaining,

“I miss you.”


6 December 1967





I sit awaiting a simple call:

To love, to give—to someone.

With ever present fear, alone,

I count the cuckoo’s moanings.


The self cannot synthesize

The object of its desires.

She is, but not for me so simple,

Was, but not for me,

Shall be, but not  . . .


Yea, though I walk through the Valley,

Shadow                                of death               to fear.

Giver                     of life                    so near,

Make me whole.

Touch my soul.

Sum the separate scenes

To life, to love—to someone.


18 December 1967





Tomorrow to market rejoicing I’ll go.

No sorrow or sickness, just living so-so.

Reasoning twirls ‘bout an empty façade,

Floundering hopelessly, feeling my prod,

Awakens, stretches, and jumps out of bed

To linger no more.


Tomorrow to market rejoicing I’ll go.


29 December 1967 (written at Seabay and LE’s)







What a violent scene from my pent-up past,

Phlegm-specked misery spawned in the muck. 

Shows no need for the barefooted lass:

Snatches her! Lashes her! FUCK!


See the why of it all.

Sail down the way

Like a lost leaf

In a landlocked lake . . .

                                                                Repell them!  Repell them!



Play the “Die Game.”

Go down with cyanide fame!

Flashed on front pages,

Crucified in the rages,

Consecrated, desecrated, done . . .



5 January 1968




Drenched in the darkness of doubt,

I sought that calm reflection

That lighted once my world without,

Then hid ‘neath a mask of deception.


A drag on a cig revealed

The hand that clutched tonight

At some forgotten feeling

Gone from my touch so light.


As passion now subsides,

The temperature falls, the heater provides

That god-made truth without ashes,

That soft, sunkissed glow,

That leaps from the thermostat’s lashes,

That gropes toward the winter’s snow.


Though I paint my windows black,

Though you sink from out of sight,

Still it lunges back,

Seeking, bringing light!


7 February 1968




Think of the things you said, my love.

Never “love,” my love.

But “beautiful” could not be more appropriately linked

Than with that which we did not call love.


I have sought in wine, but found nothing,

Save that momentary warmth

That resides in a onedollarbottleplustax. 

I have sought in oblivion, yet always awoke,

More convinced than before

That one cannot seek in nothingness. 

When we least expect,

The hidden hope arises, sears, laughs, and is gone.


March 1968





Go to familiar things.

They’re useful too, at times like this.

But remember, my love, at times like this,

Nothing is so known as uncertainty.


2 April 1968





What is this game we play, my friend?

We meet, share yawns, and depart,

Under the same canopy of deception

That covered and shall cover.


Is it not better . . .

But, no.  My mistake.

A figment, so to speak,

Of an imagination too active

To be real.


I see in my world.

In yours, I hear:

“No hope.”

Resounds from the very depths.

Nothing resounds from the heights—

Except in my world.


4 May 1968





Is there no happiness in this life?

Is it a place of empty blunders,

Of people trying to forget,

Then yielding to encumbrance?


There is perhaps nothing sadder

Than a caged Polar Bear:

Majestic surging white cloud,

Sinews stretched across cold grey walls,

Unyielding, even to the mighty sweep

That rules the barren wasteland.


I saw on the Oregon coast

The magnificent leap of a fleeing deer. 

The first startled tremble,

The crashing of bushes:

Flight without wings.


Blending with the countryside

Stood on the next knoll

A doe and a fawn. 

May the taxidermist’s hand never

Sink into sockets emptied by the sportsman’s lust

Glass eyes forever unseeing!


Those eyes!

The car lights bored through the night

To reflect in their depths. 

Fiery, unable to comprehend the intrusion

Of the Man-made-Sun.


18 June 1968






For the wind whirls free, as it always does,

And the night noise creeps, with a stealth born of years

Toward the darkened window.


The night wind slips in noiselessly;

No shutters hinder him.

With ever-growing boldness,

He nears her face so dim.


E’en a withered leaf in his embrace

Would find that buoyant youthful grace

Of spring’s first buds ‘neath the caress

Of gently zephyr’s endless quest.


Now shuddering ‘fore April’s rains,

She sheds the bonds of wants repressed,

And sighing softly, scarce complains,

Relents, bursts forth in acquiescence.


And now that winter’s wailings come,

Her sleep may be a sound one.

But the wind whirls free, as it always does.

And the night noise creeps, with a stealth born of years,

From her darkened window.


31 October 1968




And this I call a souvenir,

My child who shall never be,

And I’ll view it again in another year,

Think secrets known only to me.


To me, my child, and your mother dear,

Whom you shall never see.

The one who knew this thing so queer

Would ever our secret be.


Yes, I’ll hold it close in a fond embrace,

Wash off with a stagnant tear

The dust that tries so hard to replace

The memory of yester-year.


Yes—tear—year, and all is now again.


The mirror can but reflect, my child,

What like you cannot remain.


So take my hand, for it’s time to go

To find what belonged to us.

For an ash is an ash, and we can’t save snow.

Why remember, my child?  We must.


8 November 1968





Whom can I trust, my unfound friend? 

Who’d look beyond my weathered fence,

Scarred by mourning tears,

To view the plots that lie within,

Guarded by haunting fears?


When the eyes so often saw

That someone with spade in hand

Ruthlessly wrecked the blossoming land of my heart,

What wonder then, my unfound friend,

That the graveyard’s scarcely tended?


For I too once hawked my “grave space.”

‘Twas greener then, and fairer. 

None found in it a resting place;

My daisies died of despair.


And yet if you should come to me,

A rose now in your hand,

Though deaf ears listen, bright eyes see,

Bring with you garden plans.


Winter 1969/1970





Sometimes I feel such tenderness,

Think thoughts that seldom come.

Heart beating fast,

Blown to white heat

By the bellows of bated breath. 

And you not even here.


As I think of our yesterday,

I see but one thing wrong:

The alarm’s crude stroke against the resounding gong

Forced eyes that longed to linger

On your sleeping face near mine

To gaze at empty space.


Then I know that it was not yesterday

You were with me,

And I yearn for our tomorrow.


Find my darkened corner. 

It’s warm, and life is so cold alone. 

Fear sneaks in, then,

Like a stone skimming the waves of despair,

It sinks without a trace

When you come through my door.


5 May 1970





There is a place in my heart

Shaped by years of searching. 

A hand-tooled box

Made just for the gem that is you. 

And all the Brinx guards who ever have lived

Couldn’t care for you as I do.


So plan well where you share

                                                                The not-with-me:

Deaf ears listen,

                                                                Bright eyes see.


For when grey dawn suffuses black nights,

And rosy-fingered lust blushes innocently,

What can we do, but succumb to the dust

That falls from our eyes?


Am I so small as to seem when shouting for grave space,

Not the least bit terrible? 

Or do my shouts meet tympanis long insensitive

To the anguish of being alone?


25 February 1969; Spring 1970; 13 May 1970





Sits an old man painting a park scene,

Intent upon only for him what is real. 

And he under eyes,

Recalling, rehearsing, remembering,

And he alone seeing it all.


Respect an old man’s follies. 

After all, a hand shaking with age,

And eyes prisming blur . . .

Wonder that he even would try.


But look deeper: he sees it all.

Come nearer and strip away the nonsense,

The smears, the lines askew.

A faithful reproduction, nonetheless. 

Priceless, perhaps.


12 April 1971





When’s a lost love born again?

Not the same, and yet,

Her touch, her smile, and my blurring memory

Sum into one

All lost loves:

Rehearsals for this encounter.


Spring 1973 (The last poem)


"How do I love the? Let me count the ways..."
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
in my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

(read to Mia during our marriage ceremony, 17 June 1973)