VOW

I swore, once, that the poem
I was struggling with would be my last.

Actually I swore that more than once,
several, maybe mamy times in fact.

In my defense, that poem
and the others that followed were
each the last I wrote
under their respective oaths,
so there was a fulfillment,
however partial, of my vow.

I am not making such a vow
with this one, however, and before
you say it, yes it is a poem
despite what you may think of it.

ON THE SHELF

He found the cup by the curb one morning walking to the bus.
He rarely notice things on his walk, thinking always about the
day ahead. But this day he saw it, picked it up and put it in his
messenger bag intending to clean it later, when he got home
after work. He had no idea why he wanted it. It wasn’t
particularly pretty, a drab red with a mark where a decal had
long ago peeled away. He forgot it, until he found it in his bag
several days later, he washed it and placed it on a special shelf
in his kitchen cabinet. The shelf was reserved for things he
found with which he intended to do something, but that
something had not yet happened. He knew something was
missing from the shelf, so he took a selfie, printed it and placed
it on the shelf.

First published in The Birdseed, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2021

MARCHING TO OBLIVION

The most disturbing thing
about lemmings is not
that they follow one after another
over a cliff or into traffic,
it is not the carnage
that inevitably ensues,
one after another doomed
by the need to follow blindly.

The disturbing thing
is not the knowledge that
lemmings only follow,
so someone directed
the first in line into
a suicidal act.

The most disturbing thing
is that lemmings
do not commit
mass suicide, it is
only in our tortured
use of cliches
that they meet their death.

NESSLESS

There are no monsters
in this lake I tell
my granddaughter, answering
her unasked question.
There are bears in the woods
around here and there
used to be an owl which made
an afternoon visit.
There are deer, certainly
and there could be a coyote
or two. If you don’t
believe me, ask the crows,
everyone knows that they
can never keep a secret.

First published in From the Finger Lakes: A Memoir Anthology, Cayuga Lake Books, 2021

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.

IF IT STICKS

It is the Italian season in the southeast. This has nothing to do with the country, its food or language. Well a bit to do with food. It is hurricane season here, and when a storm arises, you can be certain most of us begin to scan the web for information, for weather can quickly become our nightmare. But NOAA and others know we are thristy for information, and perhaps that almost everyone loves Italian food, so they feed us ever changing, ever shifting spaghetti models. Pass the red sauce please.

IMMEASUREABLE

The distance between truth
and belief is as small as the width
of a hydrogen atom, yet
as wide as the diameter
of a galaxy of your choice.

You say truth is relative, I
know that it can morph
in the face of circumstance
but that hardly makes
relativity a factor in truth.

You say you believe in truth,
at least as you see it,
and question those who deign
to disagree, at times ignoring
evidence they might offer.

You say none of that matters,
for when the son of God
returns, all will be revealed
and truth will be declared
evidence to the contrary
be damned

SLICED CLICHE

He is fond of saying that he
is the best thing since sliced bread.

There is so much wrong
with that statement, even
ignoring that he is the one
who keeps repeating it.

If he were that great,
and no one is rushing to suggest
that he has even approached it,
wouldn’t he want to be just
as great as sliced bread?

And what sort of bread, that
matters more than he realizes.

It’s one thing to be a good
pumpernickel, or even a great
Jewish rye, hell most would
settle for a multigrain, but
knowing him, he probably
means Wonder Bread, and that
is a low mark of which
to fall painfully short.

THE LETTER

Today I should receive the letter
that I sent to myself twenty years ago,
telling me what I should be, where I
should be, who I should be, for the me
of twenty years ago was, by his own
admission, far smarter than I am, although
I am here and he is nowhere to be found.

If the letter does not come, I will sit down
and write to myself twenty years ago,
expressing my disappointment with him,
with his lackadaisical manner, ignoring
his epistolary obligations, content with
what, who and where he was without
though for where he was going, who
he would be, what he would do in life.

Ultimately, I will forgive him of course,
much as he did twenty years ago when,
on the day he expected to receive
a letter from me, the me who is
he twenty years hence, the letter
did not arrive for I have more
important things to do today than
to sit down and write to him, he would
not appreciate what I have to say,
so, it is time to get on with my life.

First Published in Cerasus Magazine (UK), Issue 3, 2021

GREAT DANGER

There are those who say
that we are engaged
in a culture war, and that
may be an apt description,
even as it misses its mark.

It is hardly cultures that
are at war, but those who
take shelter under their
false mantle, armored
in labels, shielded by cliches.

But the weapons of the war
are quite real, known
for ages, Stalin and Alexie
calling them out by turns,
for they pose the danger.

In this war it is ideas
that are wielded ruthlessly,
ideas to be most feared
if they are not shared,
ideas that must be suppressed.