WHAT WOULD YOU SAY

I am just wondering
what you would say
if you were called
to testify about all
that you had seen,
all that had disgusted you,
all that you condemned
but did and said
nothing while it occurred.
What would you say
if you had no choice
but truth, no shading,
no mincing of words,
just the harsh light
and you in a chair
in an empty room,
a disembodied voice
asking endless questions?
It is best that you
remain silent, say
nothing at all,
for we have already
judged you, and you
know your own guilt.

First appeared in Literary Cocktail Magazine, Fall Issue 2022, Volume I Issue II
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VEgeWfNp5SFGSm8nW8QegM1WuNUa_s99/view

FOUR WETLAND HAIKU

Apple Snail shell
bleached by the sun, empty
happy Snail Kite

Great Egret sitting still
waiting, simply waiting
then flying off

Red-shouldered hawk
staring into the distance
endless patience

Pig frog croaking
but the moon will not answer
we fall asleep

ODE TO PATIENCE

The jetty is replete today
with tourists, pale as the sun
bleached concrete, stopping
to gawk at the fishermen
who ignore them intent
on watching the sadly still line.

The pelicans sit on the rocks
grooming and posing, talking
loudly on occasion before
spreading wings and flying off.
Out on the jetty a pelican waits
patiently for the fisherman
to pack up for the day, knowing
he will dump his bait bucket
on the concrete and the pelican
will be rewarded for his patience.

HAVOC

They took up shovels,
pickaxes, bare fingers
to pry up the seedlings,
the saplings just taking
root and the seeds
just planted still watered
by the sweat and tears
of those who lovingly
tilled the brittle soil.

They offered nothing
in return, barren ground
where only anger grew,
fertilized by fear, by
by greed, by blindness.

Will we sit by and watch
as promises wither under
an ever stronger, more
glaring sun, as hopes are
blown away by arid winds,
or will we again return
to the soil, start over,
our faith now perennial.

THE CAT

Pause and consider, if only
for a moment, this question,
which you need not answer
as you will be right and
you will be wrong regardless
of what you say in response.

What if we are the cat in
some Godly thought experiment
and our degradation of the planet
is the bit of radioactive material,
of which we have in profusion.

Are we alive, or are we dead,
or both, until God again
checks in on us, so we must
hope He is too busy creating
other worlds and correcting
the errors he made in this one.

DROWNING

Stop and breathe, deeply,
don’t look at the smog,
at the particles hanging
in your air like a curtain.

Don’t pause to consider
what you are inhaling, don’t
picture your alveoli clogged
with what you can now see.

You are drowning slowly in
a sea of air, so imagine yourself
a fish struggling in the water
of a sea you have laid waste to.

YOU THERE

We dance between wanting
to know what is out there,
and fearing that we are not
any longer unique, just one
more in an endless stream.

And then we have to wonder
if the others, such as they are,
wonder what is out there,
and fear that they are not
any longer unique, just one
more in an endless stream.

Has it always been this way,
have some already come
and gone in the flash
of a dying star, or grown
barren from neglect and greed?

Some want to know what
is out there, as out there
could become the only place
separating us from extinction.

CATHARTIDAE

They circle slowly
each in its own tier
of a near cloudless sky,
their wings still
as if frozen, riding
the breeze, dipping
and rising, going nowhere,
needing nowhere,
riding, riding, looking
down at the wetland,
and circling, until
with a shift in the breeze
the vulture vortex
shifts east, and you
watch them shrink,
thankful that they
are simply out
for a flight, and not
finding a meal
in the reeds
and trees
where all
the other
birds live.

ADMISSION

We do not like to admit
that nature laughs at us
as we pretend to bend her
to our will and desires.

We dam and reroute rivers,
but the river knows well
that it will return, flow
where it wishes, for it
will be here long after
we have returned to the soil.

Still, now and again nature
grows weary with our meddling
and unleashes her fury
in ways we are incapable
of stopping, and laughs
when we seek divine
intervention from the utter
depths of our powerlessness.

SEOUL

The Han river, gray to green
hinting at mud, but roiled
this day, is a keloid scar
across the torso of Seoul,
its suture bridges struggling
to hold the halves together.

Soon it will be dark, the Han
then a no-man’s land, separating
the two Seouls, each certain
it is its own whole, neither
looking north to an always
foreboding step-sibling.