Sunday, July 13, 2014

THE FIRST (2007)

here is the second:
we both step off airplanes in some place
we may or may not 
consider a home
and when we see each other
it isn’t across some great distance
but i’m scanning the passing crowds
when i feel you gentle tap on my shoulder.

in the third, neither of us is
caught off guard because
it happens out of planning and convenience.
we are both too aware of the approach
for confusion or mistakes.

the fourth and fifth are something similar
with the details modified 
(a momentary lack of recognition, delays
and the expected complexities of reunions).

but the first --

here is the first:
i am sitting alone
in my one-person home
meditating on thoughts that will be read
by no one
but you.
and a knock.

TO YOU. (2007)

When two pause on the edge of a vastness
one seeing water and one seeing glass
Who will step forward as the other falls 
back into a past of certainty?

I reel in reverse and the resulting illusion
is enough to lose this moment in
an instance of eternity.
A sort of virgin journey for a 
weathered traveler of the land,
     tolerating a permanent adventure.

So who will understand the map and 
border between our lives?
And who will admire your crossing the 
divide to resume this uncertain pursuit?

When time does recoil to nine days a
week where we stood by Sebago
and pondered our depths in the rain
did the water seem to soak up the drops?
Or did they bounce off?


Strained cornerstone
as I watch your frailty
surface from the side
first the left
and retreat to the right.
Ten years ago you 
taught me to be your caddy
in the heat of the plains
the suffocating heat that
penetrated what once was a haven
but today smelled of urine
and you, my hero, lay
in defeat
sprawled on your side
in a still frame.
I could’ve painted the pity
on a canvas, sharp strokes, making mute
your still body and 
her still face
as if tragedy were an everyday 
occurrence on South 17th.

A few years ago
you leaned your head back
into the kitchen basin
and asked me to witness your vulnerability.
And for the ten minutes I
caressed your scalp—your
thick and silvered hair—
my hands aged a decade.
I thought I could release that memory
until today when nakedness
made me feel less alive
and my hands, held under
your arms, had to bear
a burden far too great
for twenty-one years.
That’s why my script is
forty plus tonight
When just yesterday you wouldn’t let your 
pride get the best of you.
Instead you gave it to me
my cold doubt insulated
a chill of impending—what? —
I pause for an answer
even though there is no ending
that won’t include
saying farewell to love lost
in you 
and you
and love found in you.


What makes us so proud
that we might end up face down 
on the kitchen floor one day
while our grandchildren 
stand in the doorway
facing the humanity of us,
who were once heroes, 
clad in a naval uniform
or a fine satin dress?

Now we resist until we can’t even 
control our own mess, 
and overcome by our fate,
lying half naked,
incapable of comprehending 
a head held any other way.


Shaving boredom
off the top
the elite crust
the zest
that opposes lust.
Sheep, which maintain
a steady heartbeat,
will put us to sleep
and so we pull out
their brains and
implicate who
we are with a 
sterile probe or some
Rushing to stand still.
Rats scurrying in 
a thick dream of 
graphical revelations.
I feel misplaced.
And tired.
A bullet to my head
is offensive
and each person
uses his ammunition
to communicate the
same solution
in a different language.
Hundreds of years
from now I may
awake and
finally be
brave enough
to achieve
a restful sleep.


23 million years ago
the Miocene creatures were on the run
from fanciful molds that we fit 
them in now.

The Supreme Court justices appeared 
from thin air
BAM! from behind the scarlet curtain
drawn to the sides
drawing us to our feet.

Sandra Day O’Connor might have
existed 23 million years past -- 
she, in her high backed chair
dwarfed with her fellows into 
a comical scene of ancient boredom.

“Oye, oye, oye!  All rise for the 
living fossils from the Oligocene”
progressing into deformed and
reconstructed rhinoceri.


On the Southeast side, a mile high
the news of another end
chimes as a warning 
and I do not cry this time.

Across the Anacostia we are
black and white—divided even in the house on the hill
I can feel the world rupturing 
into pieces.

There are fault lines
tearing through a billion lives
or more,
convincing us that boundaries
truly do exist.

But is it a matter of falling through the cracks?

I’m back on a park bench
But this time physics don’t make sense.
A lack of familiarity doesn’t
prevent the pause, the breath, and 
the breaking point.

Death is dying all around me.