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Retreat and Then Return, Advance

Retreat and Then Return, Advance


For everything unfinished,

There is a place

Like the Island of Misfit Toys

A place where all uneven edges,

Things that are torn,

Even misplaced socks are



It’s a place where you and I belong

Though only for brief visits

Like the real creatures who cannot stay

On the island,

The actual world beckons with

Immediate agendas

Worthwhile plans,



Stay with me, then, in this land that

Celebrates the broken

We’ll enjoy the harbor

Sip tea and nibble cookies while

The water keeps us safely in,

Protected from the storms outside

For a time

While we are here—

Call it vacation

Then we’ll return;


Space was given us to wonder ‘round inside

Time to fill with wisdom

The power of reflection on

Still water,

The comfort now of things outside

Readier to take them in

After misfit not misspent time


C L Couch




Public Domain Super Heroes


And Does It Take a Sabbath Day

And Does It Take a Sabbath Day


And does it take a sabbath day

To have a larger thought

To encounter feeling that goes

‘Round the world


Maybe it does

Though the Lord knows

I can make my own

And, like entitlement, could call it

Anything I want

Though usually it’s Friday

Maybe Thursday


I used to retreat and rearranged the week

I’d go out on Thursday afternoon

Stay through the night

Often not sleeping, maybe by intent

My own dark night of the soul

Then I’d have Friday to go downstairs

To meet with the director

We’d talk of Francis and Gerald May

And would I train as he did

So far, I haven’t done so


All that has ended, as I guess it had to

Not because of miffed occasions

I’m not sure we ever had a one of those

But because mortality calls unevenly

And those of us are left

To fill in steps like pulling in

Loose lines on board we weren’t expecting

Never are


I must do now for me

Chaos, order

Void, abundance

I don’t arrange these very well

But they are big

Like large thoughts on a sabbath day

Friday or whenever


I must find my own way home

Find more company than this

Than these

Sensations, wishes, little more

Not to fill in emptiness

But something hale to

Place over the pain

Like a well-timed blanket

On a cold, cold winter day


When I couldn’t go out, anyway

To find the house above the creek

On made-up sabbath days


C L Couch





Did hermits ever live there

Saint Petersburg

Or near Nashville

I guess when the Czarina

Or Old Hickory

Wanted to live like hermits, each


To their respective place


Places that

Are museums now

And we can’t go there by ourselves


We’ll not have that feeling there

Of away and art

And loneliness

As we might live

Intentionally apart

For a time


Maybe, then

A hermitage in practice

Somewhere in one set or another

From which we return

To what the world has in mind for us

And we, you know,

For it


C L Couch



hermitage tn


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