AUBADE

The sun peers through
the skylight, sneaks
catlike up the comforter.
He strokes her cheek,
they are drawn together,
lips touch,
toes twine,
hips press,
fingers trace,
the mattress a world
of infinite gravity.
Downstairs
the cat paces angrily,
the coffeemaker
thirsts for beans.

First Published in the 2005 Scars Publications Poetry Wall Calendar

CASSANDRA IN FLORIDA

She is large, and largely immobile
and occupies the bench by the road
that encircles the property like a noose.

She does this each day, a crust
or more of stale bread tucked away
in a pocket of her always floral

housedress that envelopes her
and the bench she occupies
as a monarch on her throne.

The ibis see her coming and gather
at her feet like acolytes awaiting
words from their sage and goddess.

She doesn’t disappoint them, telling
them a tidbit of the world, more often
who was taken sick overnight, who

died yesterday, always a shock
she says, then whispers conspiratorially,
but actually expected, of course,

for everyone here has numbered days,
and then tells them stories of her life,
real and imagined, the veil between

her truth and her fiction now diaphanous.
They grow impatient, but a good queen
reads her subjects and reaches

into the pocket pulling out the crusty
bread, smiles at her flock, says see, I bring
manna and together we cross the desert.

First Published in Chantarelle’s Notebook, March 2019
https://chantarellesnotebook.com/2019/03/22/

OLD HOTEL, NARA

Stepping into the hotel, it was like being dropped into a truly alien world. Nothing shiny, no excess of glass and marble. A simple dark wooden reception desk, a clerk in black with a white vest. A bow upon approaching. Your room is simple, no internet, a single light on a small desk. A tatami mat in the corner. A hard wired phone. And you know, in the distance, the Daibutsu awaits you in the morning. Here there is no CNN International, nothing that isn’t Japanese. Your computer is essentially useless, a fax machine in the office for emergencies. And the nearest business center, sorry closed, is in the city. The Internet is coming soon, they promise . But on your morning run, as you catch your breath on the step outside the Todai-ji Daibutsu-den, a deer comes up to you and licks your face and you know this morning Daibutsu is smiling.

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.

BANISHED

Yet again this morning
there was a shadow
closely following me.

When I turned, it stood
in front of me, daring me
to do something I guess.

When I asked it who
it was, it said I am you
you dottering old man.

I told it that such a lie
defied belief, for it was
far taller than me.

It was about to speak
when I banished it
and it disapeard.

I smiled up
at the large cloud
blocking the sun.

ODE TO PATIENCE

The jetty is replete today
with tourists, pale as the sun
bleached concrete, stopping
to gawk at the fishermen
who ignore them intent
on watching the sadly still line.

The pelicans sit on the rocks
grooming and posing, talking
loudly on occasion before
spreading wings and flying off.
Out on the jetty a pelican waits
patiently for the fisherman
to pack up for the day, knowing
he will dump his bait bucket
on the concrete and the pelican
will be rewarded for his patience.

FIVE HAIKU

The dawn cedes slowly
to the impinging sunlight
birds greet the new day

The great egret lifts
her wings embracing the cloud
the winter sun smiles

on the barren branch
the red-shouldered hawk awaits
her mate and the sun

sandhill cranes wander
along the shore of the lake
looking for nothing

the moon is a cup
waiting for night to fill it
venus sits empty

MAGIC MIRROR ON THE WALL

The face in the mirror this morning
was not mine, perhaps it was
that of my grandparents, all
I never met, having only
old and faded pictures that vaguely
resemble the mirror’s face.

It might be my parents, both
dead before I found them only
yearbook pictures and just possible
a vague similarity to the face
that i see in the mirror each day.

I tried to ask the mirror who
it was hiding in the glass, but
like most mirrors it was silent,
a sad reflection of its ilk, so
the old man peering out will
continue to be someone
that I have never met.

DON’T BLAME ME

On the day after I die
there is a real possibility
that the sun will refuse
to rise, an appropriate
effort at mourning
which would be appreciated
if I were only there
to not see it.

So I will just take it
on faith, and as for those
of you who survive me
I will apologize in advance
for your day of darkness,
although we both know
you probably had it coming.