The fifty-year-old house
How happy she was she didn’t buy it:
a rooming house, abortion clinic.
Finally, burnt out.
The unhappy house.
No one ever loved it.
-photo Harry Rajchgot
Reservations are suggested with changes
except most of us are unaware
that we have travelled on a
one way journey until
we have reached its destination.
And whether suddenly or,
through insipid pace,
no desired accommodation
awaits our arrival.
It would be best to book in advance
a fortress to steel oneself against
any damages, loss or theft
and then affix a DO NOT DISTURB sign on
Seeds encased in jack pine cones
require fire to release their kernels
and spur new growth to an aging forest.
But restoration has no confirmed date.
tangle against each other
and in successive days,
block out more light.
Changes can betray you.
They have a life of their own,
that intersect our itinerary
and shove us against time.
We grasp past moments
to regain balance,
but remain all the while,
the startled tourist.
“The only journey is the one within.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
To know what it is
to be cracked open
wide as the world –
Heart open as the sky,
and part the path for
that kind of space.
To uncover the buried blessings
of your pain;
To know that you will never again
be the same –
Your borders, boundless.
To feel the earth collapse
under your feet
your ability to fall,
To no longer run
from the wounds
of your past.
into the darkness
and mine the gems.
To arrive, again
to further journeying,
To face unafraid
the plans that you’ve made
and to know
your plans are traced
To make peace with this.
To slide back
into your story,
become its hero.
To celebrate the pulse of Life
here, now, this –
Arriving home gently
with loving welcome.
Marlena “Zen” Johns
Glass shards fall.
Like the leaves of an autumn tree,
Baubles cover the ground.
Hands deflect a shower of
Splintering, slicing slivers,
Like threads of insulation.
My tiny paper cut scars
Staining maroon seat covers.
My husband continues,
Smashing car windows with fist and club.
Bloody marriage knows no laws.
Vows protect heinous crimes.
Degradation follows destruction,
And police watch, bystanding pedestrians
As a stream of broken lives pass Go,
And no one sits in Jail,
The community chest’s gift-
Get out of jail, scot-free.
We know, we strangers, we
who stand on the platform
to each other.
Her mother’s breast aches—
in the morning, especially.
Perhaps it’s how she sleeps,
or the fall breeze,
the crack where the window
won’t close. But we’ve foreseen
the issue already, the tender
flesh spidery and weak.
Or the man whose wife
disappears most Wednesdays,
the breakfast plates
in the sink, her best pants
specially creased. She’s not
going for the sale on sheets
at the English Home Boutique.
She’s desiring another latte
with the man with nice hair.
These people speak to us
with glances, as we listen
for our trains and wait.
-photo Harry Rajchgot
The firmament splits asunder,
Limpid azure expanse engulfed by marching pellets of black.
As tortuous streaks of lightning rumble and thump,
Behold, as the heavenly chaos unfolds.
Under a divine decree, I descend and alight,
From the empyrean to the ground beneath!
Urchins swarming the streets like unfettered souls,
Gazing heavenwards with beseeching eyes,
Bashful bride frolicking in the courtyard,
Fresh from a morning connubial bliss.
Tenuous smile flickering across a coy vermillion face,
What unbridled joy I bring to thee…!
A hapless doting mother, a picture of misery,
Huddled in a corner, cursing her penury!
She scuttles and scurries, clasping the baby to her chest,
Drenched and distressed, collecting littered fragments of her nest.
Ravaged and wrecked, she laments amidst the debris of loss.
What unfathomable sorrow I bring to thee.
I am, but
A drop of tear from the lachrymose Observer,
One who said “Be”,and it was!
To see his creation riddled in strife,
Love lost in mankind’s giant strides!
Within flesh and blood a serpent resides.
Standing tall on the edifice of might,
Hallucinated by evil whisperers in the shadows of night!
Man beckons his doom, in an air of gloom.
Cometh His wrath, behold the creation charred into fumes.
A few gold apples cling to black branches
on a twisted tree I pass every day.
I walk and watch, filled with wonder:
how can you be dying?
My driveway seems steep, the house further away.
The weeping mulberry is a chandelier
balancing crystal tears, trembling and precarious.
I think of your eyes that rainy afternoon last summer.
It was the day we unpacked your hope chest
to make it lighter for the move to your new house.
“It’s heavy.” you’d said, “It needs to be
easier to carry.”
Your voice was soft as fingers stroking
the worn scrapbook, I remember
loose pages falling like leaves
when you picked it up.
It took us a long time: memories
lingered and snagged on fences
that seemed too hard to climb.
So many photographs,
a lifetime of greeting cards full
of words we’d never spoken…
you’d held on to them all.
Dried rose petals and newspaper clippings,
ticket stubs and school projects,
scraps of ribbon, your button jar.
We took everything out, loaded boxes
for moving day. It seemed easier to laugh then.
Your trunk is at the new house now.
You were wheezing yesterday when
you told me you hadn’t gotten around
to unpacking cartons yet; some things,
you said, you can only do yourself.
I understand, but help me not to cringe
when I picture your hope chest sitting empty
as each dusk steals the fading light from your room.
Once, clover overflowed my pockets.
lambs cavorted upon shoulders draped in timothy,
and my breath was sweet with pollen.
When leaves blushed under the sun’s knowing,
orchards ripe with promise bore fruit
rich and crimson. I felt the weight of their bounty
pressed upon me and yearned for more.
Later, geese and the last delicate song
birds were blown southward, over deep
furrows and shallow stream beds.
The wind quilted my fields, clumsy fingers tied
squares of sepia, umber, burnt gold with brittle reeds
bowing to November rain and the glossy weight of crows.
Now, I am pristine, snugly tucked on all sides,
Briars at my head cushion blossoms of snow
I am deceptively soft, an invitation:
Come lie with me here. Let me remember.
And, promise when you leave, the footprints
on my cheeks will dry quick and silver as tears
beneath a benevolent moon with it’s face turned aside.
You wouldn’t happen to know
a Miss Regina Ziegler would you?
I’ve been studying her handwriting
to figure out her first name,
I’m no cryptographer so
can’t rightly tell if it’s Regina
or Rina, but it’s a mighty regal
“R” she writes, with the sureness
of a woman who loves poetry and
may indeed write some herself.
It was Miss Regina, as I’ll call her
who once owned my sole
book of poetry by Robert Frost,
the cover of which states
“The Pocket Book of
Robert Frost’s Poems.”
Leave it to me to check where
apostrophes go. They ought to
get it right, don’t you think,
the editors, all dead now, I’d imagine,
as is the poet himself.
Regina herself met a terrible end
and not meaning to keep you in
suspense, bear with me a little, while
I prattle on.
With a number two pencil
Miss Regina has lightly
underlined some phrases,
not many; like me, she probably
doesn’t believe in marring a book.
“Plain language and lack of
rhetoric” is where her pencil
first touched the book. Then a
lapse of fifty pages until
pencil, resting in her mouth,
dared come down again
“For to be social, is to be
And there we have it. But
half a dozen phrases underlined,
Miss Regina, a spinster school marm who
taught in the one-room school house,
a converted barn with only eleven
children, from blue-eyed Mary nearing
pubescence, to tough Frankie who
begged his daddy let him come and
learn instead of mowing hay and
minding the cows.
These were the children she never had.
Did she read them Frost? You bet she
did. They loved the one about the blueberries
“as big as the end of your thumb, real sky-blue and
ready to drum in the cavernous pail of the first
one to come!”
And that goodly Miss Regina had brought silver buckets
of blueberries and passed them around after class with
another bucket of cold milk she brought from a neighboring
farm. There were farms in those days. More than
you can count. Just like there are shops today
teetering on what used to be farm fields.
She also read them a few poems about the stars up above
in Heaven. Where we would all go when life has had
enough of us. The eleven children made sure they
wished upon a star every night, their little heads
pointed upward, hands clasped together in prayer
as their eyes skipped merrily across the sky.
Were those owls they heard hooting in the distance?
And the so-dark sky, a different flavor indeed
from the gay one they saw in the morning.
She introduced them to the wonders
of the world. Would it ever leave them? On their
death beds would they think, “It’s been a wonderful
One winter it was too cold to walk the deep snow
to get to school. Miss Regina turned on her coal stove,
glanced at the glowing coals, black as the night sky,
warmed her shivering hands and went back to
bed to keep herself warm. She heard the explosion
first, a sound like a million church bells going off
Was that her last thought as she catapulted, quilts
nightgown and all, from her straw mattress, floating up
up up in the air
like a bread rising in the oven?
Oh, they would miss her all right.
And I will miss her most of all for it’s
time to mourn her once again,
to think of Miss Regina and
the spell she bound. In her memory,
I’ll eat some blueberry yogurt
the kind where the cream
rises to the top.
Anniversary of My Death
Revere Beach, Massachusetts
Firm to foam to the water lapping Thank you on this beach,
to the storm that won’t die,
to the rain that grieves,
to the drops that cool my skin and age my scars,
to the drops that come now in summer’s reprieve.
Last night, Anubis rose from the dark East.
Last night, he treated my corpse and put my excised heart
on a plate as Amir Timur’s crude feast.
Last night, fear, cold-boned: the banshee’s late-night shriek,
when that bitter poison reminded me of my precious health,
when the doctor’s cage saved me from myself,
when I fell out the back, when I fell on the black,
when my friends like Icarus flying,
when I launched into stillness undisturbed by busy hands.
To Arizona, to the ICU,
to that tube coiling fury into my voice,
to the wreck that marred the open road,
to the interstate, to the milepost,
to the warlike whir of airlift propellers,
to the dimming of sirens,
to the dimming of light—hours that tick away the sun,
to the drip as the IV’s begun,
to my black pen,
I await its coming, and it will come again.
LOVE AND THE FINER THINGS
not a German bellarmine jug
but a real wheelchair
with his left hand
flopped over the side.
It could never afford delftware,
though there were tunes
the fields, the fence, the firs,
were as dainty and detailed
as punchbowl decoration
It was willing to sacrifice
a Ming fish jar,
Spode earthenware hot-water plate
and a kind of dance
when you lift him into bed.
had in mind the Royal Doulton
and the green glazed tripod vessel
but settled on the weathered palm,
your fingers wrapped inside it,
like the roots of an ancient flower.
just an ordinary paperweight;
not St Louis crown.
A bare bulb,
no silver gilt figured candlestick.
despite their worth,
the artisans are long dead.
And you are poor but breathing still.
Love takes that it into account.
You wish to be a Douglas fir
Tall, straight, almost immortal
But you stand like a Peking willow
Prone to cankers, full of twisted twigs
Worse still, you are not so resistant
As the authentic willow that can bend gracefully
Shake off all its unwanted leaves in autumn
When there is a wind blowing even from nowhere
No matter how much sunshine you receive
During the summer, you have nothing but scars
To show off against winter storms
The scars that you can never shake off
From the Picnic Bench at Midnight
We lay under a sheet of black paper
where tiny holes have been poked
giving us light
but only enough
to stay content
with the darkness that veils us
Today, each moment
turned to kindling; gaps
alongside our knees diverged
while the Hudson scratched into
each window. Your hair continues
to muse through my sideburn,
then collarbone, both nostrils.
Beneath us, the rails charmed
Tarrytown’s soil with delicate
sparks while your face endured
its collapse against a shoulder.
When awake, look at those eyes.
you’ll find two monuments
long asleep, dream watching,
as still as spoke wheels.
Todd, the God
Michael C. Gebelein
like the homeless guy with the shopping cart
full of broken speakers and plastic grocery bags
who, rumor has it, is actually loaded,
lives in a big house and
drags that cart with three busted wheels into downtown each day.
he’s got something to hide like the rest of us.
his secrets won’t tear down any walls
but I remember it was a cigarette of his
that the chief said set the DSS building on fire.
he’s just like the rest of us. I call bullshit on the
hobo with a huge bank account story.
that’d be too nice, too convenient.
I’ve seen him in the alleys,
squatted down and taking a shit.
people don’t choose to do things like that.
Without an address your hands
lean across –another crease
making the final correction
though this note still opens out
everywhere on her lips
on her breasts, on the bed sheet
folded and over, warmed
for its nakedness and side by side
–every word is already lost
and there at the bottom
where little blossoms should grow
there’s nothing but silence
and the long line for a stamp
to cling when it leaves your hands
as if even without the flowers
the corners will arrive as evenings
covered with dirt and her forehead.
What you open leans against wood
that is not a door you can muffle
put your arm around the only sound
when you knock on this kitchen table
whose corners were broken off
straight down, still lit, letting you in
circle her mouth not yet the room
left over and listen for the smoke
around the hush from small fires.
Just died and its rain
is already snow, comforts
the obituary page
with moonlight pieces
slowly circling down
as that star-shaped lullaby
small stones still look for
–it’s this morning’s
though over your head the deaths
are hidden in silence
begging for water
that doesn’t break apart
the way each sky
is hollowed out for another
–you make a sea
for these dead, each name
a boat, sails, the spray
midair and out loud.
This tree abandoned at last
flows past as ravines and riverbeds
and can’t fall any more
–it’s used to dirt and those initials
you carried along inch by inch
not in some stone letting you stop
for water –you were buried
in the afternoon, late so the light
could close the lid with leftover kisses
become an ocean, still burning
and between each wave the glint
from a clear silence you took for yes.
To survive you disguise each log
as the aromatic sun the mornings
can’t resist –even when naked
you hide some kindling close by
let it give birth in the smoke
that leaves with nothing, becomes
the emptiness though your eyes
never look up or warm –a fire
is feeling its way to your mouth
with lullabies and the small stone
falling asleep on the stove
–you feed it wood as if your lips
still smell from milk and salt
–an ancient, gentle art now lost
somewhere in those nightmares
set off by an empty dress
and along your forehead the light
begins to melt, wants to stay, keep going.
Bonani traversed beyond the small and big hills
Beyond the singing mountains and valleys
The bushes were full of thorns and roots
And were a well-known refuge for snakes
He braved windy or chilly nights
And the frightening sounds of owls
Whoo whooo whooo whooo
Hoo hoo hoo hoo
Maybe the owls were hooting:
Who cooks for you?
Who cooks for you-all?
Who cooks for you?
Were the witches and wizards
Not stalking him too?
What about the infamous ghost
Over Nkanyezi bridge?
Was it not said to be stubborn?
Was it not said to be talkative and slippery?
Sometimes he heard dogs bark
Sometimes there was some grunting
Jackals howled and snakes hissed
Lions roared but he was undeterred
At times the night`s darkness
Was blinding and confusing
But Bonani groped for the path
And rummaged through the bushes
Sometimes the rivers were flooded
Sometimes the rain pounded
For Bonani it was just a delay
He usually reached his destination
His destination kept his heart
Beyond the hills and valleys
Beyond the streams and rivers
Someone had stolen his heart
The ring that’s not yours
that belongs on his finger
no longer looks shiny
just dull and encumbered.
Melted snow in early spring
sudden and surprising
you’re black ice
red light flashing.
Flushed smears of lipstick
tangled sheets stained
in a knot of deceit.
Your cologne plays on my skin
like a fedora on a phat cat
Buddhist prayer beads on a mantra
or a song I like to scream.
Twelve O’Clock High, 1965
Late to the briefing as usual, Peter Fonda fumbles
the last folding chair into place, General Savage
staring darts from the podium, a map of France
huge behind him. Fonda plays Lathrup, a born
bombardier who no doubt pondered snail darters
from the creek bank behind the cabin he eulogizes
in Act Two as he falls in love with Mary, the pub girl
who’ll say with dewy eyes & shy smile in Act Three
yes, yes she’ll marry him & live after the war
in Tennessee where it’s spring the year round.
Fonda frets, broods, fails to drop a load,
goes AWOL, careens a Jeep down Mary’s street
as the Luftwaffe turns London into rubble
where the girl lies crushed in a cellar now open
to the sky. Lathrup finds her, kneels, strokes her hair
& as Savage scrabbles up beside him, sublimely condemns
the price of a duty no longer his. How many dead
beneath clouds he’d thought beautiful? Savage knows
the boy’s pain—“Lieutenant” his dead love called him,
the British “f” in “Lieu” heartbreaking now—
but those bombs they drop on the Ruhr Valley
each night mean the quicker end of pain.
They hold one another’s gaze through the fade.
As the epilogue opens, Lathrup lopes in late & rattles
a chair into place as Savage bestows a fatherly smile
from the podium, the air group’s best bombardier
having chosen necessity & recovered his Tennessee
charm so we could take a last sip of milk & sleep.
I remember talcum powder and tiger balm
the raised mole on her left hand.
I remember wrinkles
and long withered fingers
I remember my face
in her soap scented hair
pinched purple skin
when she was not there
of hard silver buckles
the balm on my bruises
the kiss on my temple.
But even Amazons fear their own mothers
But even Amazons fear their own mothers –
I’m not saying it happens all the time, mind:
Now and again a mourning woman
Set on building up her grief as a private temple:
The highest gold leaf ceilings,
Blue candles scattered here and there,
The many pics of sweetest memories,
Enormous pillars of rage, tears, salt –
No need for brickies or marble cutters,
She builds it by herself in the white silent chaos
That won’t upset the neighbours –
Once the building’s over many options she’s got,
Prayers, deep thoughts, sobs, to throw a tantrum,
To rest her head on a pew, even to smash it
If she feels to, albeit tactless mirrors,
The dim lights of suburbia
And the neon of big cities give her a healthy blue funk –
Well, just for the record I’m of a different ilk:
Can talk to everything if need be,
Can talk to everyone if a crisis crops up,
To the living and the dead,
To three-year-old brats, to blue friends,
To candles and needles, to queens and to dreams,
Which is nice but no use, as she’s sitting unfazed,
A sharp ‘no’ to my pleas, she won’t show up
And I’d better desist lest I be banned to exile –
Stop it green wildness,
I’ll grab you by the hair in a dash,
I’ll fling you to the ground, then I’ll meet in the end
All the children romping and frisking on the grass,
I’ll wave hello with a smile, they’re my life,
Yes, I’ll wave hello to my life with a smile
Instead of the usual stern nod, I’ll even say ‘thanks’ –
I know, it’s a gritted-teeth smile, so what?
Children will thank me for getting rid
Of a green witch in disguise.
The Fisherman’s Life
Out here living the Fisherman’s Life
watching the ever-changing tide
waiting for the full catch of the day
Daily I make this trip
to bring home money to run the home
I do not get as much as I used to
the fish are not as plentiful as years before
more boats trolling for the same find
different currents have taken a lot
the processors are not paying for our loads
they say the warehouses are overflowing
so we get half of what everything is worth
leads to longer hours just to face the family
I have to start before the sky is visible now
just to get enough to keep the beat
it is an old boat handed through generations
never know if it can withstand another nor’easter
every man’ s fear out in these unpredictable waters
not to be thrown to the bottom of the unforgiving current
like so many others have to never be found
So many thoughts out there
in the loneliness of the Fisherman’s Life
Tea and Symphony
Give these poems a Third Symphony sound, Shostakovich.
I want a shrill whistle to shriek over a trestle
after the ending in each line with cargo of heavenly hooks
so majestic they’ll provide seduction for our Magic Kingdom family.
Call more folks to come right down, from Pakistan or India,
some city I’ve never seen, say Bombay, where the race for progeny
and feast of gluttony no less than the race for arms
has put us on the down-slide track Inside the seventh ring of an Inferno.
Shostakovich, here too, in the west, human traffic bleeds
all over dreams we started at tea parties where we couldn’t guess
if nobody talks about limitations, sticks with banalities of short hauls,
pleasantries that connect lives envisioning no petroleum spills
blasting three hundred souls to a premature Eternity when unregulated
trains without night watchmen or brakes slam Into pubs after midnight.
Expose the hushed truths about battered women, sexually transmitted disease,
the psyche twisted by promiscuity, complicity in the talk talk arms race,
nuclear testing, dumping, stockpiling. Wait! That’s not even the short list.
Share first hand stories of abortions, rape, incest, insanity, alcoholism,
indigenous people displaced, molested in their schools, and growing old,
turned away at the thrift store! Mark drummed crescendos, clashing cymbals
to make a way to fix our world more energetic, and put a smile in here
because we have to laugh, want to think we’re rail hopping, tramp style,
Boxcar Berthas shrieking “It just ain’t good enough.” Give us success
stories and dining cars, food stops, alternatives to beheadings, martial
evacuations, drone-driven air bombs and millions of refugees
helter-skelter starving, freezing, filthy without water. Give us
our daily destinations to rejoice in what the Maker’s made
to avert stupid resentments—Shostakovich!—a better understanding
of the limits, generally, a better map before another train-full
gets that trapped feeling. Let us hear the harrowing sounds of being stuck
in the chunnel under the English Channel and wake up! Play asphyxiation
for our failure to recognize the sounds of false teas, illusionary teas,
mad tea parties forbidding travel to us, as indulgence for the rich. We must go
if only in our heads! Bring back soft love! Hard love like hard energy’s not
all that pays. Bring the light clamoring lest we let misspent time bring us in cahoots
with terrorists out to finish us off with a dull thud. Help us orchestrate
the truth in one woman’s Om to see her prayer to Mother Earth Mary Maimonides
is just another of the unnamed names of Hashem–What a girl! I’m thinking,
come down here, Girl, come look at us ride away on a bicycle
in the middle of a stronger challenge braced for such a situation, hoping
all the others who want to join may bring along the bison bone soup
and Turkey Tail Mushroom Tea to fight the cancer, shouting, “Freedom!
Freedom from catastrophe!” as if the only breath we had left
after all-night arctic dancing that has steamed the lot of us, kettlelike,
might kick off a noisy protest against this learned, deliberate darkness.
I Call Your Name
Before dawn I begin naming
the ten thousand things, one-
by-one, touching each with my mind
as they take their place in this world.
Orion, Cassiopeia, the moon hanging
like a scimitar over the horizon’s edge,
and the milky swoosh arching over,
all these find their places in the predawn sky.
Soon I call the crow out of the black nest
and the jay, blue against the rose light.
Then come the tall pines, needles and cones
and bark plates blackened from last year’s fire.
The soft whisper of the wind
rustling the dry oak leaves
and stirring the spiny holly
waken with the early light.
When the sun comes up, my words rush
to fill the land and space with forms,
lines, and shadows defining each thing
with its proper name and lineage.
Where are you in all these words?
I call your name to awake you
from the lures of the dark night.
I call your name. Come to me.
We go there –
the Whitehorse –
to indulge ourselves
in the very same place
where Dylan Thomas claimed
to have knocked back
18 straight whiskies.
A lie of course.
In his shape,
half that amount
would have dropped him
like an uppercut.
he scribbled some lines
on an napkin just like this one.
Or he farted and belched
and the stench hasn’t quite
removed itself from the cloistered air.
It’s romantic to suffer from
a fatty liver, swelling brain,
and gout and chest pains
and still summon up the bravado,
the fury, the fight,
to rouse, out of their
schoolmarm Keats and Wordsworth,
a couple of neophyte poets
who weren’t even born at the time.
We go there –
the Whitehorse –
celebrate the myth
as much as the reality –
a couple of beers each,
but so many more
to tell the folks back home.
At the bus stop where I wait, is a fenced off construction site
of what was once, an old age home.
Feel free to use the euphemism of your choice, however
wrecking balls and bulldozers are oblivious
to names given to brick structures.
In its place, a billboard advertisement gives promise to
‘sophisticated’ housing units going up
in prompt completion.
Feel free to name the development as you wish-
not that the previous building was worth saving:
Its darkened lobby was flanked with a caged parakeet, plastic hyacinths,
a paneled trough filled with dollar store tinsel, and, color marker displays heralding
The residents who were still fortunate to totter by
my glass shielded bus shelter, would extend courtly greetings
in my direction.
They were mostly women, wearing print shift dresses and
the wispy curls of their hair, were hedged by parts.
For an assigned time, I had occasion to make acquaintance with them
in a designated basement craft room where
sunbeams and athletic shoes stole past the window view.
These participants had once been secretaries and engineers,
homemakers and teachers and by decades they
had arrived to this place to knead clay, grasp paintbrushes,
string beads and paste cut up images from magazines
to create forms that were remnants of what they did,
who they were or wished they would become.
It is said that artifacts can teach us about humanity.
Feel free to refer to a parallel existence as you wish, nonetheless
amidst the rubble of excavation, accidental discoveries
are sometimes made that converge with a valued culture.
Pools of water now collect in the crater landscape behind my stop.
The ripples reflect fast moving clouds and for a moment
I can see the previous dwellers gazing at the ponds with genuine delight.
Where I wait, there is no spot to record how it all looked beforehand-
about gentler souls and places that stand for home.
Swallowing a handful of pills solves every problem, although I didn’t necessarily want it that way. Nearby is another me that I can’t see but that sees me. It’s impossible when looking around not to imagine some prior tragedy, all the deserted cities the jungle overgrew. Whatever happened to the right to be lazy? I try to tell myself that if less is more, then nothing must be even more. A woman outside the Stop & Shop is collecting money in a can, her eyes like rusted bullet holes.
You look up from what you’re doing, interrupted by a chain of thunderstorms moving through the region, something that might mean something, broken people and animals, and the way they stand, and the trouble they get in. The wallpaper pattern repeats the image of a body hanging from a lamp post. It sounds horrifying, but that’s the idea. You and everyone else have begun to suffer the effects. Often eyes become red. So I press my eyes shut. This is wrong, I say and keep saying until my voice gives out.
A farmer and his wife, after their horse dies, want to carry machine guns so they can intimidate passing motorists. They go immediately to a lawyer. No skin off my ass. In the United States we have a curious relationship to death – a very crazy old man, unanchored by horizons, riding on a cloud beyond the beyond, where simple words look like galaxies.
Some years are bright and funky – and even reportedly saved a man’s life once. But she had a sad little funeral. It was rainy. It was all wrong. And I was thinking, God, she loved life so much, everything in the world, including the air. Like the Sufis say, “Life is a dream, and death is waking up.” Not that anyone will.
Source for #4: Allison Meier, “The Funeral of Artists” at <http://hyperallergic.com/179082/the-funerals-of-artists>
It is said these are ancestors who come
– ceremony under a huppa
veiling of the bride
recited for Giuseppa Mulè
here in this manor,
Baglio di Baarìa, Sicilia
gate of the winds –
slopes of Mount Catalfamo.
A mother-in-law’s secret family history
passed down over 500 years
the groom will present a gold ring
break a glass under his foot
left together alone in this chamber
skeletons around a bride
on a raised chair
the hóra circle folk dance
i morti –the dead
act out scenes from their lives:
weavers, potters, and dyers
blacksmiths and silver smiths
paint carob wood boxes,
boxes with two hinged gates:
duality of Crypto-Jewish life
on the inside a skeletal family
light a menorah on Friday night.
Sit shiva on a low stool
say the Mourner’s Kaddish prayer
Giuseppa’s eldest daughter
died of fever aged one.
Kenneth P. Gurney
She kissed me a little less enthusiastically
than I wished for a Saturday night,
but her kiss’s voracity
would have been perfect for a Sunday
afternoon in a Seurat painting,
though her little black dress
would have been out of place
among the parasols
and the boats on the lake.
Gay Christians parade
up Dauphine Street.
It’s a rainbow double
line: black, white, Cajun
with Indian blood.
A marching band,
bass drum and wild horns,
leads them all.
They mix gospel
with Cher and Lady Ga-Ga,
play their own
Church people threaten
them with hell fire,
unless they repent
right here, right now …
They ignore their critics
as more people, far more,
clap and whistle for them.
A young guy shouts out.
“Was Jesus gay?”
His lover wraps his
arm around his neck,
kisses the boy
on top of his head.
But the question lingers
in the air …
The Bible never says
if Jesus was gay or straight.
He could have had
a boyfriend who went
with him to raise
the dead, heal
a passing leper …
They are dancing now,
joyful, silly, and saved
for all time.
Near Canal, the parade
starts to break up,
but one last bigot shouts:
“Jesus died for my sins
but not yours!”
Laughter is the reply,
though some wave as
if they knew the man—
the same God
made them all.