In order to be considered, the request must be submitted on the proper form with duplicate originals. If you lack sufficient copies of the form, you may request additional originals by submitting a request form in duplicate originals. Copies of the former not acceptable, whether or not completed at the time of copying. Additional copies of these instructions are available upon submission of the required request form. It need only be submitted in the singular.
The night closes in
chasing the sun, dragging
heavily laden clouds that stare
down, watching warily for us
to step outside without glancing skyward.
Clouds of night are particularly jealous,
most often ignored if not
completely forgotten, unsure which
would be worse, ultimately indifferent.
As we begin the walk to the car
the clouds open, a torrential reminder
that Mother Nature
will not be easily ignored.
They have a youth that you think
should make you envious, poured
into clothing that would be
a second skin, if skin were silk
and polyester, patterned tights
hair ironed straight, colored highlights
and you still recall when this
what a fascinated you, when
you would have found it alluring.
You probe the corners of your memory
knowing the trigger is there, unable
to find it in the vague images of velvet,
flowing and draping, colors more vibrant
in the acid fog, knowing it would all
crash down too soon, that the cocktails they hold
should be cheap jug wine in plastic cups
to prolong the slow descent back
into the real world from which the blotter
paper and cactus provided a welcomed escape.
They are arrayed like so much stacked
cord wood, pressed against walls
indifferent to their presence.
They watch the double doors leading
to the examining rooms with trepidation,
wanting to be next, wanting more
not to be here at all, knowing the options are none.
He isn’t bothered by it all, this is
old hat to him, he knows them, several
of them know him by name.
He will no doubt be here again
and that doesn’t worry him, for here
he knows he will walk in and walk out,
the alternatives are far less pleasant, some
involved simple pine boxes or urns
suitable for a mantle, but none
of his family have fireplaces and he
would hate to be lost for eternity amid
the toys and tchotchkes that so
define their lives and homes.
While others stare nervously, he hears
his long dead grandmother whisper
“Remember, boychik, pain is God’s way
reminding you that you’re alive.”
If a thousand objects
are arrayed before you
what will you do,
what do you call them?
A sphere has no edges,
I can reach through a cloud.
Why would I try
to cut a moment in two,
or stuff a cloud in my pocket.
A reflection on Case 27 of the Iron Flute Koans
“It’s the difference between anthracite and lignite,”
he said with a sort of all-knowing smirk.
“Quite the contrary,” she snapped back
“It’s the difference between pahoehoe and aa.”
He clearly wasn’t pleased,” those examples are
like night and day, and you’re in the dark.”
“You can’t begin to tell between makai
and mauka, but I love you despite it all.”
“And I you, so what if you couldn’t hope
to distinguish between a fastball and a knuckler.”
“You’re really going to hang a curveball like that?
Even a girl like me will take that one downtown.”
He laughs, “that’s why we’re so good together
we agree on so very little most of the time.”
She giggles, “I can’t believe you said that
on that one narrow point I must agree.”
The snail oozes slowly
across the gravel floor of the aquarium.
He would have you believe
his slow progression is normal, for
snails have cultivated people
to this view for millennia, the easier
to go ignored through life.
He is comfortable with my staring,
turns his back to me and meanders away
hoping I will grow weary of his glacial pace.
I finally nod and turn away,
allowing him to return to his breakfast
and say to him, “I’m sure the doctor
enjoys your algae cleaning almost
as much as you enjoy your vegetarian buffet.”
Turning back to him moments later
he is scurrying up the wall of the tank
thinking he is unseen, headed
for his morning nap under the warm
light of the long fluorescent
sun that is carefully anchored overhead.
An elk stands at the edge
of a placid mountain lake
and sees only the clouds
of an approaching winter.
A black bear leans over
the mirrored surface of the lake
and sees only the fish
that will soon be his repast.
The young man draped
in saffron robes looks
calmly into the water and sees
a pebble, the spirit of his ancestors.
I look carefully into the water
looking for an answer to a question
always lurking out of reach
and see only my ever thinning hair.
First appeared in Greens Magazine (Can) 29:1 2000