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
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.
Danielle’s Dog Tags
Ruth Z. Deming
A good postal team at the
19040 post office in
Hatboro, Pennsylvania, so-named
for the hats they made
in the American revolution
thousands perished but are
forgotten in this little town
no one’s ever heard of.
How quickly we forgive
the Brits, we slurp their
tea in fine Royal Albert
China, pinkies lifted
Danielle of the page boy
shining black hair I have
never seen at the post office
her short sleeved blue blouse
reveals a pair of jangling
dog tags upon her breast
A loved one, I am certain,
has died in one of our wars
most likely in the Afghan or Iraq
where we send our black men
to die instead of cherishing
these descendents of our
“peculiar institution” and
helping them become
architects or doctors or wealthy
Danielle tells me
with a shy smile
teeth white as a
that he is a victim
of another one of
America’s peculiar atrocities.
Her black brother was
by a sniper’s fire
but here in Philadelphia
in what we call a
black turning on black,
“The worst day in my
mother’s life,” she smiles
her eyes brimming
like a river overflowing
Thirty-five. His whole life
before him. Danielle’s dog tags
a Hail Mary full of
chimes on the old
clock tower tolling
lest we forget
lest we forget.
Said July to an August Afternoon
“Did you know
Said July to an
Burnt umber in its skies
Bite in its air
Holding in autumn
Clinging to summer sun
Of a flawless fourth of July
Or sweat mixed
With chlorine on your skin
Dandelions burned in those days
In Pentwater, Michigan
As the skies, the lakes
Along with my skin
Still too white
From long winters
Whiteness turning to pink, to red
A flaming sun spot, dotted
Across nose and cheekbones.
I went fishing inside
the belly of a whale
just to see if I could find the bones
of a man one old book called Jonah
or the wreckage of the ship Ishmael sailed,
if he swallowed my religion,
if I could force him to vomit
his secrets of tomorrow, or yesterday
his sea stained eyes \\
so wise, so sad.
he held up the world and smiled so slow
I called him God,
he told me he saw the beginning,
the end too, and who was I
to call him Liar
while he lay beached, mouth wide
so I could fish in his belly,
old chair perched on his tongue
while he tasted the sand between my toes.
St. Agnes Hospital Final Tableau
“When I am laid, am laid in earth,
May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.”
— aria from Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas
My conference with Dad’s oncologist and infectious disease doc
goes as expected: Nothing suggests the sepsis which declared itself
is resolving. We reconcile not to further biopsy his medicalized life,
what to stop, what to begin to diminish pain, make breathing easier.
Brother-in-law inserted next to my wife — we shapeshift, share roles
seeing Poppy through. At the helm of the bed, I channel how to lean in,
lay on hands, where to kiss, when to cry, back off, exhort, forgive, let go.
MD finger on MD wrist, his pulse slowing, I guide Daddy’s journey
then posit everyone but my sister head out. She says to me,
“Gerry, you’re the overpriced doctor, so remove his nasal prongs.”
Just wanting to be a Father’s dutiful son, fingering
the room’s wondrous but alien crucifix, I try to hedge,
“Why don’t you check at the nursing station first?” Unmoved,
Sis counters, “Let’s take off the oxygen together.” We strip tape
from Pa’s mottled forehead. Other tasks fall to me — cut off
DNR bracelets. Shave. Change his gown. Detach paraphernalia,
daub his cheek. Wheel Mother in for last time alone. Regather.
The Christians Arrived
Michael Lee Johnson
Salvation Army and
the Christians arrived today,
Christmas, like every other Sunday morning
feed the homeless, chasing the rats from the bathroom,
basement, kicking the dead flies out of the corner spots
where the cat used to lounge-
clean the toilet bowl, a form of revival and resurrection.
I privately pastor to these desires though I myself am homeless.
I forgot what it’s like to be a poet of the cloth,
savior in street clothing with a warm home to blend into.
I watch them clamp the New Testament in one hand,
And pull a cancer stick out of the pocket with the other.
It’s all a matter of praising the Lord.
Everything is nonsense when you’re in a place where you don’t belong.
Even praying to Jesus from a dirty dusted pillow seems strange and bewildering.
Someday I will walk from this place and offer spare meals by myself to others;
feed the party in between the theology, the bingo of sins and salvation.
I forgot the taste of a Stromboli Sandwich with a six pack of Budweiser
with or without the Chicago Bears – it would make every Sunday a Salvation
Today is a fairy creating miracles from the dust of the floor
multiplying fish and chips, baked ham, ribs with sauce Chi-Town type,
dark color of greens and veggies tip me to the Christian
clock on the wall peeking down on lost and unsaved.
I feel like a fragment.
A birth date the way again to begin, fragmented.
Pinto beans mixed with graffiti fingers,
Christians arrived on Christmas day-
they always do every Sunday morning.
I pastor to these desires.
It’s all a matter of praising the Lord.
The Christians arrived today.
the intimate words
they should or shouldn’t have heard
the lessons they learn
a minor change in the air
her phantom has left
yet another tear
cracking the rosy façade
suitcase on the mat
his own tabula rasa
in the nascent sun
Girl in “hygge” refugee hut
In the mountains on the
other side of a fjord
winter solstice, 60 degrees north,
where the sun sets before four
one room timber cabin, attic loft
Magyar refugee family from Budapest
what’s hygge about grandmother’s
homemade lingonberry compote?
hygge at Yuletime
it sounds like “hYOOguh”
–it’s even harder to translate
now that we have a name for it
–warmth, togetherness, family
and in the Nordic darkness unaware
five children, four girls and one boy
we’re hygge’ing right now
around an oak table for a meal:
spiced meatballs. Potatoes, carrots and cabbage.
For all of you to cuddle around the woodstove
on a December evening.
Ah, så koselig –so cozy.
Laced ankle boots, wool mittens
tobogganing on a snowy hill
tucked under sheepskin,
sipping tin cup of hot cocoa,
hygge by curling up on a bench
with a fairy tale book
mother brought from the old country,
teddy bear, a rocking horse
the glow of a log fire
spruce bright with white candles.
The Once That Was
Slit my throat
From ear to ear
The time it took
Was the brief forever
Of a child on a swing
Just a tick
Not even a tock.
I’ll never feel the joy
Of sadness again.
The fairy tales have sprouted wings
Their pages blind as kites
They now wander among daylight’s invisible stars
As darkness descends with its burning lights
I sit in the slow rush of traffic
From inside my car
The rain’s gallop sounds distant
While windshield wipers wave warily
As if sweeping the glass for mines.
*photo image: Wikimedia Commons
The Good Air of Buenos Aires
James F. Olwell
The waves of sun shine dance
upon the leaves, under the floss silk tree,
fall in the pond in the Japanese garden ,
given by the Japanese community
to commemorate it’s own founding.
The enormous Koi carp (goldfish) there,
perceiving movement upon the pink arched bridge,
arrive as a multi-colored mob, open mouthed,
Certain there will be food.
While the Plaza Allegmana
presents it’s park, perhaps,
in honor of whom it was permitted
to let in, to keep out.
Elsewhere, even the pigeons seem
to have isolated the weak.
You can recognize the unsleek,
while they rot in the corner.
Little green mountains of bags
appear at end of day,
neat and clean upon the sidewalk
‘til they meet a small army
of families or young boys or men,
pregnant women, an inclusive world,
to pick through, pluck any edible
combine into a meal, no
assurance here for open mouths.
No country from which tourists come
gave a park or leafy garden
to honor the hungry, ill begotten,
disrespectable mobs of mouths, worthless
to the great buildings, as of Europe,
great avenues of eleven lanes of cars.
No, no country gave, neither here nor home,
—in honor of the hungry families,
nor Argentina neither that,
oh one of many, one of many,
let in Nazis, didn’t let in Jews.
photo: by Luis Argerich, Buenos Aires, licensed by Wikimedia Commons
by Violet Neff-Helms
In the quiet moments when you pause above your books,
Lifting slowly your wine glass, casting back your looks at times now gone.
Watching firelight dancing shadows on the hardwood floor,
Smiling slyly, shaded eyelids, savoring Golden Never Mores.
Sifting like sand your memories where Time and Thought are kept,
Will you recall as I shall recall, or will you just forget.
A meeting of minds so long ago in a corner of this Earth,
A sharing of thought in passing there,
A moment of Peace and Mirth.
Brief as the breath of the living,
Quick as the flight of a dart,
I left with a smile and a memory,
You left with the wind and my heart.
She brings you down
She brings you down to her level,
splits with a flick.
I don’t mind her house of moods.
chocolate boxes rattle, full of shells.
Once you’re there, give up;
there won’t be any signals.
And what’s so funny about dipping your knife in tea,
when what you wanted was honey?
The fields begin to sheathe themselves
The fields begin to sheathe themselves in some
soft metal underfoot as they ripen
into hardness. The air quiets. Except
for Christmas’ three-week hum, traffic thins.
Some life has left the earth, been driven down
and in. The metal spreads its silent hymn
that sings of hardship, night; of frozen beings,
their signals lost; records the broken keen
of almost dogs. They spread out as they run
for meat. Under the trees their lines bisect
the rabbits’ shorter curves. Life joins life:
gray fur, brown fur, metallic scent of blood.