When they asked him what did you do during the war he said “I just stood guard.” When they asked him where he said “A station, just a station, like most others, I just stood guard.” When they asked him did you see the trains carrying the bodies crammed into cattle cars he said “I saw many trains, it was just a station, but mostly I looked at the sky, wishing for the sun, but mostly it was gray and there was smoke from the chimneys.” When they asked him why did you wear the lightening bolts he said “I was a ski instructor but I broke my leg so I stood at the station, just a station like most others.” When they asked him did he know of the ovens he said “They made bread which we ate each night when there were no potatoes.” When they asked him about the Jews he said “I knew no Jews; there were none in the town where I stood guard at a station, just a station like most others.” When they asked him what he did after the war he said “I prayed, just prayed for my sins, sins like those of so many others.”
He only wants to know , he says what she fears most,what is her phobia, everyone has at least one, he claims. She thinks about this for a while then smiles and says her one true fear is called phobophobia, and that she says positively terrorizes her. He looks confused and she sees it. I fear, she adds, people who are in fear even though I know they aren’t contagious. He smiled, took her hand, and said You have nothing to fear from me for I am generally known to be fearless. At that she cringed, knowing that Her second greatest fear was mythophobia and he was a walking, talking example.
“I don’t want to” is hardly a sagacious way to run a country and “just because” probably didn’t work when you were a child, why would you think adults would accept it now? And when we all expressed our displeasure, disdain and contempt, which part of “no” did you have trouble grasping, Mr. President? The apple may not fall far from the tree, but let it sit on the ground long enough and the worms will have it. Ambrose Bierce said diplomacy is lying for one’s country, Mr. President, not lying to it.
First appeared in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008.
The once gods have been reduced
again to mere mortals
and find the change disquieting.
Just the other day I saw Hermes
meandering along Fifth Avenue
pausing to look at scarves in a window
of a store he never imagined.
Even the once great queen
finds herself behaving like
a love-struck teenager.
One who bred desire now works
as a hack writer for a card company,
a blow to his psyche more
than anyone can imagine.
Even the nameless one
has been seen working behind
the register at Walmart
thankful for the extra hours
as the holiday season approaches.
We no longer aspire to be gods,
it is too much work and there is
simply no payoff.
Early this morning as I drove through the mist that clings to Portland in March like a child’s yellow slicker, I thought of you, home, asleep on our bed, my side tidy, no faint indentation of life, and I thought of the thousands who have died to date in Iraq, who never again will leave a faint indentation in any bed. It is far easier thinking of you, of regretting the miles between us at this moment, but knowing that I will shortly bridge those miles and we will tonight indent our bed, that two thousand miles is little more than an inconvenience, while many of them are no more that a dozen miles outside of countless towns; but the effect of that short distance is infinite and they can only indent the thawing earth beneath the granite stones.
For a while, I will be using Thursday’s posts to feature poems I previously had published. Today’s, Early Morning previously appeared in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, (2008).
Only in New York will you find a giraffe looking up at taller buildings and not thinking this the least bit strange. People always look up at buildings and it is never strange, but people know that giraffes must be different and their looking up is by its very nature strange. Giraffes look down at people as well. This is not strange, and people accept this although they are usually not pleased. People do not like being looked down upon. Not even by giraffes.
Faith is something, she says, that everyone has, it is just that some don’t recognize it, even while the coin is flipping through the air and the desired outcome is whispered in the mind. She believes that life is a joy, but that it is also heaven’s waiting room, and while there may be a trap door out, she knows where it is and can avoid it. She says she’s enjoying the show but this is just the opening act and it’s the headliner she came to see. He smiles, imaging his next life certain this is just one life in and eternal groundhog day of existence.