Laurence Musgrove

After Me

I don’t want to fight the world.

Sure, there’s much I don’t like.

Desire destroys our planet,

And the powerless who bathe

In the dirt and fear all day

Can easily be hidden from view

When the screens big and small

Are paid to show only the angry

And more than one naked girl.

What’s new and next will never

Satisfy the mind or the heart

As it breaks against a world

Too heavy to carry or leave behind.

When I say peace, you say it, too.


Let me take a moment for your sadness.

I don’t know yours.

I don’t even know mine.

A dark pool and cold?

A lost key?

A wrong number?

A name we can’t remember?

A scab and a scar?

You never had a chance to say goodbye.

And the piano is ruined.

Let me take a moment.


When I met the Buddha

On the road, I was worried

He would see the litter

Of my wasted life behind me.

All I wanted was for him

To whisper courage

Into my exhausted heart

So I could make it to tomorrow.

I was once afraid like you,

He said, until I learned

Time is no sand in the glass

Or even this road we share.

Time is not a tree

With leaves upon the ground

Or even the monsoon

Ravaging the hungry valley.

Time is not a dying fire

Or the moon chasing

The sun around the sky.

Time is not a wheel.

Time is not a bell.

Not a ringing bowl.

Time is not a shadow

Underneath a cloud.

Time is not a memory.

Time is not a dream.

Time is not your children.

Not your father’s coat.

Time was never born.

Time can never die.

Time has no master.

Time cannot hide.

As I walked with the Buddha

Darkness followed close behind us.

But on the long road before us

The sun melted and froze on the horizon.

Laurence Musgrove is professor of English at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, where he teaches literature, creative writing, and composition studies. A new collection of poetry, Local Bird, is from Lamar University Press. His poetry has appeared in Concho River Review, descant, Elephant Journal, Sleet Magazine, Inside Higher Ed, Southern Indiana Review, and New Texas. He blogs at and cartoons at