On the Margins

I stand at the edge, on the margins, watching the flood,
so close to the torrent, yet apart from the flow.

There, where I’ve always stood on the margins,
the rush beckons me, urges me to lunge.

I could fall at any moment or I could jump.
Just cut the cord keeping me on the margins.

But on the margins, I’m safe from the mainstream,
there’s no danger of drowning in a withering tide.

Still, waves in the current invite me to leave my place
on the margins, to gently enter the allure of the channel.

It may be bravery or it may be fear that keeps me here.
I won’t be swept into the stream; I’ll stay on the margins.

What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music.
~ Søren Kierkegaard

What is an unhappy person? A poet who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like wounded buffalo.
~ John Swinburn

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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9 Responses to On the Margins

  1. Trish says:

    He (Zorba), wasn’t “boarder line”, he displayed great empathy….the basic element. And with that in mind, he knew what he was….all too human, in my estimation. But then again, it depends if he cried from himself only, or for the others, which would be the the telling…

  2. Trish says:

    By your estimation only, Juan…Zorba was Zorba….he knew who he was! 😉

  3. Juan says:

    Agreed, Trish, but if Zorba was another song, it might be this one:


    Cheers! 😉


  4. Thanks, Robin; I thought it appropriate!

    Your are too kind, Juan! My poem was written on both sides of a double-edged sword. Let me explain (good poetry doesn’t need explaining…that remark, then, is self-explanatory): On one hand, the writer is more content and safer, emotionally and psychologically, to be out of society’s whirling core, but on the other, his decision to stand as a loner makes him miss out on whatever allure the mainstream might have. He might be brave to stand alone or he may be afraid to enter the fray, but regardless, he will stick with being a loner. At least that’s what was going through the poet’s head in the wee hours of last night as the poem took form.

    And I absolutely LOVE the the music. As I listened to it, I go the urge to go buy a bottle or two of ouzo, whip up some spanakopita, and dance on the tabletop after dinner!

  5. Trish says:

    And now “to”, instead of “too”….oh, God…going to finish my my gardening! lol

  6. Trish says:

    Correction…yet (scratch) “it” he had not lived….and Zorba, not Zorbra….to much haste. :/

  7. Trish says:

    Great rendition of “Zorba the Greek”, which leads me to the story. The Englishman was marginal, at least until he met Alexis. He wrote his thoughts and feeling, yet it he had not lived them. Alexis on the other hand was illiterate, and lived out his thoughts and feelings. They both fed each other through their friendship, though I feel Alexis had the greater influence here with his zest and passion for life, and his innate ability to take “action” upon them. Thank goodness that the Englishman boarded that ship to Crete, even if it started out as a claim to inheritances. For he inherited Zorbra, which was to become his roots to a new beginning.

  8. Juan says:

    Play this song while you read my post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpt72mXyFXw

    Question: How does the poet know he’s working from the margins?
    Answer: He doesn’t! 😉

    You’re not working from the margins; you’re working from the personal!

    The Margins? Are you kidding me? You look fairly deep to me – deeper than most; deeper than most who don’t even dare a blog site, much less pay the money involved.

    Does Whitney?

    And I’m not even considering the skills required for WordPress and all the “what-not” of building a site.

    And then, you write, write and write … and you have moments of sheer poetry!

    Have you written a million words yet? Probably so. 😉

    Difficult to say what marginalization works as today? But to me, the marginalized are those who cannot even interact. Facebook is marginal! LinkedIn is marginal! As you said yourself, they’re not acting, they’re “reacting.” There are actually billions on that river’s edge!

    You’re not one of them, or at least you stand on the further side of that bell curve (more than one metaphor used here).

    No! This is not a poem of acceptance…..it’s one of angst, goddamn it! …. it’s writer/philosopher John Swinburn wanting more!


  9. robin andrea says:

    I love your re-write of the Kierkegaard quote.

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