What can you teach
in not mind
find no thing.
What can you teach
in not mind
find no thing.
Ambrose Bierce walked into Mexico
one day, and was never seen again.
That was surprising enough, but
more so, he left no epitaph, the least
you would expect from a writer.
In retrospect, perhaps he was
the smarter one, for I know othersl
who have spent countless hours
trying to devise the perfect epitaph,
knowing they never quite got it right.
I almost fell victim to that trap,
but avoided it the moment that
I realized that regardless of what
I might so carefully select, it is
my heirs who will have the final say.
It is a simple two pronged pin,
steel, a circle around the letter U.S.
It has sat in my jewelry box since the day
I clutched the DD-214, hung up
the two or three uniform items
I didn’t turn over to Goodwill,
and filed the paperwork with the VA.
Every month, when the VA Disability
check came in, I’d glance at the pin
and remember the heat of Lackland,
the sound of the planes when I
was out on the line delivering
a manifest to the pilots, Ray-Ban
aviator glasses, dirt cheap at the BX.
I never agreed with the war, had
no idea why we were in the paddies,
but the U.S. was us and I owed
a duty to us and served.
I don’t know quite when it happened,
but I look at the pin now,
and wonder to whom I
could send it for it now has
no meaning, and if possible
I’d really like those two years back,
for I no longer feel a part of US.
Merriam-Webster declared me an orphan
yesterday morning, when my father
slipped away from his morphine dreams.
Some would argue I cannot be an orphan
at my age, that is a sanctuary reserved
for children, but I am long past
admitting my age, and my behavior
gives no lie to my claim of childhood.
I will continue to miss him, for his dementia
stole him memory by memory over the years,
and I was left to fill the void
with stories of my childhood, remembered
and imagined, to him there was no difference.
I can now fully mourn my birth mother,
gone for years before I found her, and
my birth father, who I can now claim and
at the same time assume dead, more
a commentary on my advancing age
than any reflection on him, save
in the mirror and the faces of my grandchildren.
And now the two men who adopted me
and the woman they really wanted,
and I are no longer part of the same package.
a winter night
clouds digest the moon
turning lights out
super condensed matter
I love you
to starched sheets
wrap her loins
into a bush
It is her time and she knows
she is ready for this moment, has been
for eons, knows it will come again
but none here will remember this day.
She stares at them, but they ignore her,
and she grows angry, her visage
reddens as she slowly retreats,
know the interloper will move along, hoping
that her return later will provoke
the sort of interest she deserves,
the sort she know she should command.
She teased them weeks ago, but this moment
must surpass that, and will, if only
the clouds play along with her.
She knows clouds are fickle, but
even mother nature usually concedes
if only begrudgingly, and tonight
should be one of those occasions.
She will not see them gather, but
her arrival will be heard in the
collective sigh and the memories she knows
they will carry into their eternity.
Years later on, having walked
calmly away from my former faith,
I am left still pondering
where you find the words
to describe, to teach the unspeakable,
and how you use them to reach
children who have no right to know
the unspeakable, but who must,
lest they later speak it.
It was a generation ago for me, two
for them, three now for my own
grandchildren but the losses
they know are staggering: Las Vegas,
9/11, Manchester, Sandy Hook,
and on and on and on and on
and how do you help them grasp
the number six million, 10 million, when
they have but ten fingers,
shielding their eyes from the horror.
When you speak the words
of the Buddha you are lost.
Light is everywhere in silence
but the tongue must hide
in the dark of the mouth.
Buddha’s words are flowers
unfolding in the dawn
by the side of the still pond,
the eyes hear the song
and respond in silent chorus.
It is hard for even me to remember
that there once was a time when
every man wore at hat, whether
a simple watch cap or Greek
fisherman’s hat, a fedora to be
avoided if you value your life,
a bowler of great propriety.
I wear a simple Nepalese hat
a reversible pillbox style, and actually
I have a dozen in various colors,
and they draw more comments
than I ever would, often taken
for a kufi, and I have brothers
from other worlds now, despite
the gulf of colors and histories
which in that moment are bridged.
And no one imagines that it
is more than a fashion statement
since no one gets to ask the few
lonely hairs that still cling
to my ever more barren scalp.
As you slowly approach it
it grows perceptibly larger.
This does not surprise you,
for you are familiar with
the principles of physics.
What does surprise you is
that the details grow
ever less clear as you approach,
as though they retreat
under your slow advance.
You think this strange,
wonder what has gone wrong,
question your eyes, and
finally realize that the details
you saw were not there
that it all was, quite simply, what
your mind wished your eyes to see.