The front of winter
slowly seeps up from the sidewalk
into the street unveiling
the last falling of autumn’s leaves.
A gentle fog rises
shrouding the fact
that winter, or the most of it
lurks just over the distant hills,
which mark the margin
of our vision.
Even the birds sing
in our confusion
they without calendars
not caring this day
is set aside to mark
the birth of a new year
and we, ignoring hours so we
need not admit we sit
in the heart of winter.
He waited patiently in the queue
until, after two and one half hours
he approached the battered metal counter.
The young, bored woman, chewing at her gum
asked the usual question, have you
looked hard for work this last week?
I stood in many lines, for hours on end
in my battered old shoes, that is
more work than you can imagine.
Each night I would soak my feet
for hours in the small sink
hoping the swelling would go down.
Each morning I would find another line
or two, if they moved quickly, but
at the end of each they would ask
the same question, what skills do you have
and I would tell them there are
few better than I at standing in lines,
and they would sheepishly smile
and thank me for my patience
and that is why, again this week,
I ask that you stamp my book
so I can stand in the other line
and wait patiently for my check
which I can take to the small bodega
waiting calmly in line to cash it
to buy what canned goods are on sale.
Then I will take my cans
and carefully line them up
on the kitchen counter, and marvel
at how patiently they stand in the queue.
First published in Pearl, Vol. 31, 2002
We greet as long lost friends,
having never before met
save sharing a place
a decade apart.
I strive to cling
to what was there
in that place, she,
fueled by the frustration,
has turned away
just because of it.
I go home to my words,
she to her art,
and we know
our paths will cross again.
The room is awash
in words, they pile up
in corners, form untidy stacks
that perpetually threaten collapse,
strewing consonants like shards
of ill broken glass.
It might not be this way, for
words need order, a rubric
in which they are forced to operate.
But here, in a room of poets,
anarchy is the sole grammar,
and in the face of order
someone throws a Molotov cocktail
as we are all consumed
in the flame of self passion.
Ensconced on the couch,
the cat hears a bird
singing outside the window.
Once, she would
have pressed her face
against the screen,
imagining a great chase.
Now she listens, content
to let the birds sing
into the fading sun.
The key, he knows is to eliminate the impossible. Once you do that what remains, no matter how improbable must be the truth. Holmes, as it comes out might have been right. Oliver Wendell was, but how can you know when you’ve eliminated all impossibilities? Doyle (Roddy perhaps) would note that improbabilities can look a great deal like impossibilities, but may nevertheless prove to be the truth. We could enlist Watson’s superb mind, but we know just how possessive Gates can be, and it could swing shut on us at any moment.
My muse sits quietly
on the shelf over the counter
in the Café Espresso
at Barnes and Noble
nestled between 12 ounce bags
of Colombian Supremo and Kenya AA,
in the shadow of the plant
whose leaves reach out
to caress her cheek.
She whispers to me
between notes from the guitarist
performing on the edge
of the Music Department
hawking his new CD
to an audience there more
for the coffee and tea.
The philodendron scandens
as I carefully tuck her
into the pouch
of my fleece jacket
for the long drive home.