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.

THE GRADUATE

You really ought to pause
and wonder just how different
the world might be today
if in that crucial moment
things had gone in
a wholly different direction.

A single moment can
set the course for all
of the moments that follow,
a definite future plucked
from an infinite array
of possibilities.

I mean, of course,
that moment when
Mr. McGuire, in the guise
of Walter Brooke turns
to Benjamin Braddock,
for what if he had said
“I want to say just one
word to you: Ecology”
and when asked what
he meant, he would add
“There’s a great future
in ecology. Think about it.”

JUSTICE

The Rabbi always said that
the highest form of justice
would be to teach a man to fish,
rather than to donate fish to him.

The Rabbi in question is now
long dead, and in so many places
teaching a man to fish will only
enable him to poison his family.

We have laid waste to ouir world
assuming someone will clean it up
for us, and we do throw money
as our attempt at atonement.

So perhaps we should give
out brooms, and hope for the best.

PARKING

It is the difference I always notice
between small and large cities: the parks.

When you sit deeply within
Boston Commons or Central Park
you can feel the city always
threatening to encroach and
once again make you its prisoner,
smell and hear the city, traffic
and trucks rumbling, horns
played in a cacophonous symphony.

In small cities you can sit in a park
and wonder where downtown
could be, distant, a whisper perhaps
alwlays unseen, and you can
get lost in dreams of childhood
smell newly mown grass, and
listen unimpeded to the stories
the trees are all to willing to tell.