OH, NOAH

None of us can remember
what was here before.
We can search for clues,
develop elaborate surmises
and find telling relics
from which we can conclude
this or that, with a certitude
the gods would surely mock.
But our field of vision
is restricted, our memories
equally so, and we are left
with one certainty, supposition.
And that will be true
at least until the moment
we realize that we too are
antediluvian and we hear the sound
of the approaching flood.

 

AN ALIEN(‘S) JOURNEY

He has just returned
from the land of Others, where
he expected to see
all manner of things
that would, could
never happened to him.
He thought he would be able
to explain why this was,
but now those things
are happening to him.
He suspects it is because
he came to close
to the land of Those People,
and he is certain
are the cause
of all the trouble
in his carefully
constructed world.
It is why, he says,
he never wanted
anything to do with them.

CORSO

When my back was turned,
Corso slipped away
somewhere in Wisconsin
silently, without protest
carried off by Charon
across a gasoline river.
There was no bomb
to announce his departure,
no Queens orphanage stopped
frozen in a silent moment.
In the small park
at the north end
of Salt Lake City
no one lifted a jug
of bad wine to toast him,
the magic bus
just rolled by.
In the City Lights bookstore
Ferlinghetti shed a tear
that dried on the old wood floor
and from above a brief howl
pierced the morning calm.
Outside the small temple
on a back street in Tokyo
a Buddhist monk bowed
before the statue, read
the wooden prayer card
and whispered
Toodle-oo.

RELATIVITY

I can no more
imagine a lack of freedom
then they can imagine
the freedom I assume.
It is always like that
imaginings are real
until you try to make them
corporeal, then the evanescence
is all that is real.
It is easy to ask
how can they live
in such poverty, and had
they free voice they
might ask how you
don’t drown in a sea
of freedom and choice.
We cannot see
the world through
each other’s eyes
if we don’t first see
each other’s eyes.

WORD

If I asked you for one word
how would you answer?
In your dreams, do you have
both arms, can you write
your thoughts on a scrap
of paper and tuck it away?
You had a lover, once,
and he would trace
his finger along your thigh.
Do you miss that touch
as you rub the jagged scar?
Can you taste the lamb
simmered slowly, fragrant,
the sauce dredged
by the crusty bread,
or do you only taste
the hard tack tossed
from the truck?
If they gave you
back your tongue
and I asked you for one word
how would you answer?


First published in “Eureka Literary Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2,(c) 1997, Eureka College 

REFLECTING ON THE HARBOR

On the anniversary
of the start of a war
one feels almost compelled
to speak to its horrors,
its cause, its effect.
But we live in an age
where wars are plentiful,
when peace is the exception
and war seems to loom
around every corner.
So on this anniversary
I watch the snowy egret
stare into the pond
outside my window,
the great bird calmly
imagining that,
in her world,
all of the people
are merely fish.

GABRIEL, AT HOME IN OHIO

I saw an angel settle
slowly over Akron
dancing in the smoke
rising out of the stacks
of the ancient plant.
It flitted, darting in and out
of the gray haze, one moment
she, the next he, and as the sun
settled slowly down, for an instant
no more than a cherub.
It was not, I think, a vision,
I had seen this before
Ezekiel’s fiery chariot
tearing through the sky
over the Mekong, only to disappear
into the heart of a small village
and again careening madly
from the hills surrounding Sarajevo
until swallowed by the apartment block.
I saw an angel settle
slowly over Akron
dancing in the smoke,
I saw it clearly
from the window
of the Holiday Inn
until the night
swallowed her
leaving only the bones.