AND PEACE?

Santayana said, “Only the dead
have seen the end of the war.”
We have grown adept at wars,
no longer global in scope, but
ubiquitous in frequency.

Mine was fought in the rice
paddies of Vietnam, and on the
campus where we struggled
valiantly and vainly to protest,
and when that failed, in the heat
of Texas, marching about, going
thankfully nowhere, shipped
to Niagara Falls when the Air Force
could think of nothing better
to do with the likes of me.

I didn’t die, know several who did
and sadly know Santayana was right
for Bierce said it best, “In international
affairs, a period of cheating
between two periods of fighting.”

KYIV

From the moment it began, we knew, it was
obvious that peace and freedom were under assault,
Russia had thrown societal norms to the wind.

Under gunmetal gray skies they attacked by air,
killing women, children, destroying hospitals, homes
raining hell on the innocents with nowhere to turn.
All we could do was watch, pray and offer paltry aid
in the hope that this proud nation could hold out,
negotiate some peace, maintain their freedom,
emerge like the phoenix slowly rising from the rubble.

EMPTY PLATES

The old gods have taken
up residence is small casitas
on the edge of Saguaro
National Park outside Tucson.

It isn’t Olympus, but the
property taxes had become
unsustainable with so few
bothering to offer tributes.

They have gotten over
their jealousy of the new
gods living in the valley,
with their European

villas, yachts and getaways,
for the old gods know well
how it will all end: there
will be no phoenixes when

the end approaches and
the newer still gods offer
their answer to prayers
not then yet even imagined.

PERHAPS, OR NOT

It is certain that they are coming,
and you assume or hope it is for me,
but what if they are coming for you?

You think that they will not find you
but they know where you are,
so where will you try to hide?

You think that you will be safe,
that they will ignore you, that you
can hide, but if they find you
what will happen, at what cost?

Will you be ready, will you stand
and oppose them or reluctantly
welcome them when they refuse
to leave, demand more, demand all?

Perhaps it is me they will come for
and you need not worry, perhaps
they will stop now and not come, but
can you live in a world of perhaps?

STOIC

He will do it again tomorrow as he did yesterday and each day before that for as long as he can remember. He would like not to have to do it, but he knows he must, just as he knows the outcome will be almost the same, just the slightest of changes imperceptible from day to day. He doesn’t like the changes, and wishes he could reverse them. But although he has asked, the morning mirror says he cannot. And the mirror is not smiling.

YOU’RE OUT OF HERE

The gods have ceased
to care about us, too
busy with other more important
tasks like fighting their
pending evictions from
Olympus and Asgard.

And the demigods have
never given a damn
about us, always preening
and imagining their
elevation, so we are left
to muddle along and we
know how that has worked
through history, so we
have turned away, anointed
ourselves, declared we
are holy and built a heaven
and hell as a final middle
finger to the once gods
who can all go to hell.

MIRROR MIRROR

The person I see each morning
looks vaguely familiar, perhaps
someone I once met in passing,
or maybe a distant relative.
But he was so much older
so he was difficult to place.

I do say hello each morning
but get only a nod, a gesture
in response, as if the person
is mute, for he smiles back
so it is not a silence born
of anger or displeasure.

I will of course keep trying
for I know that I will
one day recognize his all
too familiar face, and I
need to act now for he is
aging quickly so my time
is limited, and in any event
the mirror does need cleaning.

DESIGN?

I still have grave doubts
about designers in general, clothing
houses in more particular,
and above all furniture.

You have to ask if the person
who designed this chair
was somehow incapable of sitting,
or simply wanted something
that looked artistic, to hell
with the comfort of its occupant.

And some designers take this
to extremes, hoping perhaps
for some measure of eternal recognition.
Take for example the Adirondack chair,
found throughout the northeast
on porches and in yards,
in a myriad of colors,
that no one ever seems
to sit on, for good reason.

MINDFUL

I saw the sun
rise this morning
over Mt. Hood, the
glow that announced
to the horizon its approach.
There should be
in the life of every man,
every woman, that moment
when seeing dawn
lift, peel back the shroud
from Mt. Hood causes the sudden
intake of just that much extra breath.

Publshed in As Above, So Below, Issue 9, August 2022
https://issuu.com/bethanyrivers77/docs/as_above_so_below_issue_9

ABYSMAL

At the edge of the abyss,
teetering on the precipice
you need not tell us not
to jump, need not tell us
the horrid details that
would befall us if we did,
blood and gore in
infinitesimal detail.

It is more than enough
that you point out to us
the sheer height at which
we stand, the cragged
floor of the canyon
awaiting those who
imagine they can fly.

We will walk away calmly,
never considering flight
into the too well known,
and leave you to ponder
why you are again alone.