RESOUNDING SILENCE*

(*Be forewarned, this is a shift from the usual post. On December 14, 1992 there was a shooting on the campus of Simon’s Rock College of Bard. A professor and student died, four others (my son included) were seriously wounded. Twenty years to the day later, in Connecticut 26 people died in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then there have been so many, many other mass shootings in our country. This is in honor of all the victims, alive and departed.)

— In memory of Galen Gibson and Nacunan Saez, victims of a greater insanity, December 14, 1992

It was a night much like this
but for a quarter century’s slow elapse.
It was a place much like this
resting beneath freshly fallen snow.
          The solution is quite simple He
          wrote, we need only round them up,
          ship them to the desert.
          If AIDS doesn’t take them
          in ten years, we can
          finish the job then.

It was a night much like this
His “then” has come but there
is no job left for Him to finish
          He offered them up
          as a sacrifice to His god
          Tonight they have no body
          to offer to our tongues, no blood
          for our lips.
          We have only settled ground
          of barren altars
          outside Buenos Aires,
          in a snow shrouded Gloucester.
          We have no icons
          through which to channel our prayer
          save the flattened lead slugs
          the earth rejects.

It was a night much like this
          but Galen’s blood no longer stains the snow
          piled along side the library door,
          there are no shards
          of windshield, bits of skull
          where Nacuñan looked
          momentarily into His eyes.
          There is no blood tonight
          on the stairs to my son’s apartment
          nor on the dormitory stairs he limped that night
          to escape what he could not see
          his legs rejecting him.

It was a night much like this one
          but the walls are bare
          there are no gurneys
          pressed against the wall,
          gurneys I needed to believe,
          convinced myself, were
          starched sheet covered supplies.

HELL, FAR LEFT CORNER

I suspect that I am not alone in wondering
if there is a corner of literary hell set aside
for those who foist clichés on the world
and at the head of that table should sit
the fellow who first said “time marches on.”
Even Einstein realized that time is relative,
and as one who served in the military
I can assure you that time does not march,
does not follow a neat, tidy cadence,
and all to often doesn’t know where it is going.
Time does many things, it can meander
like an early morning walk along the shore,
it can rush forward like the youth
discovering what he is sure is love,
it can even plod, when the pain is growing
and the doctor is ever so slow to respond.
Oh, and sitting next to our marching friend
I nominate the fool who thought that time
might actually fly, maybe hell will be fun for him.

EDGE OF WINTER (FOUR HAIKU)

The clouds build slowly
threatening to overtake
the maple’s red leaves.

October cloud knives
Slice branches from saddened trees
Leaves fall in mourning

Dogs peer at dawn’s sky
And slowly don winter coats
Knowing geese take flight

Tomorrow the snow
Will not fall from evening clouds
But soon, very soon

MOTHER

 

I called my mother the other day
and she did not answer, which
she would always do when I called.
The dead, I concluded, no longer
play by the rules they did
when they were still alive.
Of course she will call me soon,
disrupting my sleep, and chastise
me for not trying again.
But she will quickly slip into
reading the list of what
she expects from me, for
either living or dead,
mother’s expectations must
always be met, no matter what.

EVOLUTION

 

We arose from water,
crawled forth and inhabited the land
and claimed dominion
and the land appeared
to cede itself to us,
knowing better
and caring even less.
We return to the water
feel its pull
but immerse ourselves
only partially, willing
to risk only half drowning,
the land and air
usually silent, knowingly
laugh for they know
that a fish
out of water
eventually drowns
in a sea of air.