There was always breakage. You accounted for breakage. You measured breakage. You didn’t know when breakage would happen, but you knew it would. You hoped to minimize breakage, but not to totally avoid it. It couldn’t be done and there were those who relied on some level of breakage to make a living, who cleaned up after it when it happened, who logged it and measured it, who devised plans to avoid it. And there were those who had a hand in creating it, or seeing it through, but no one really liked matrimonial lawyers except other matrimonial lawyers.
They should have had
an altar, even Abraham
had one when he was ready
to execute Isaac, and the ram
interceded, to his ultimate peril.
They should have had
a funeral, that is just common
sense and decency, but they
wanted no such thing, just
be done with it, bury it away.
I still mourn the death
of science for I know that it
operates without spite, without
anger, with simplicity, making
our world ever more livable.
Perhaps there will be
a resurrection, it has happened
before, although at times
it does seem that it would
take a rather large miracle now.
First published in Pages Penned in Pandemic, 2021
Step right up, don’t hang back,
come and watch the fool perform for you.
You know me, bedecked in motley emotions
worn like so many colorful rags,
a suit of too many shades and hues,
all displayed for your entertainment.
See if you can find ten shades of anger
as I prance around in front of you.
Count the five flavors of tears
that start and stop like a passing storm.
Laugh at me as I pirouette, a dervish
who loved blindly long after
the love of my patron had died.
See me in my fool’s cap, the bells
of rage and guilt dangling from its points.
If that isn’t enough to bring out a laugh,
watch as I rip out my heart
and lay it at your feet, still beating
to the rhythm of the song
to which she grew deaf so long ago.
Rain your scorn on me as I stumble
across the stage, for though they ring hollow,
it is them that I most crave, a redemption
that no monarch could hope to offer.
Step right up, don’t hang back,
come and watch the fool perform for you
and do not pause to think
that you could as easily be here,
on this stage, and I out there marveling
at you, wondering what you did
to ever deserve such a fate.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)
He said he would ghost me
but I know you don’t tell someone
and in any event, even though
I do not very much like him
I do not wish him dead,
and he wouldn’t make
a very good ghost anyway,
since he barges and not sneaks.
He said he would unfriend me,
but since we were never friends
to begin with, how can you
unfriend someone who barely
considers you an acquaintance,
that feeling no doubt mutual.
He said he might spam me,
but that, too, is hopeless
for I have been a vegetarian
for two plus decades and
did not eat canned spiced
ham spread when I ate meat.
He said he wanted nothing
at all to do with me, and
on that point we fully agreed.
I have yet to wander the medieval battlefields
of Europe and it increasingly seems I never will.
I have visited my share of castles in Ireland and Scotland,
but the acoustics there are not good, and I did not
hear the anguished cry of soldiers falling in battle,
I have seen rivers, quiet now, where the blood
of the vanquished must have flowed in this war
and that, for Europe is a place of wars,
the perpetual gameboard for the greedy
and those who imagine themselves emperors.
I come from a distant place, where three wars
on its soil was deemed sufficient, but who will
freely give others the wars they have grown
altogether too used to fighting, and we gladly
offer up our sons to aid in the combat so long
as we only receive their bodies in the dark of night.
And perhaps that is our failing, for we know
war well, but we keep ourselves clean, and marvel
at the destruction we will never know first hand.
He is, he claims, a practitioner
of feng shui, and will, for
a nominal fee, arrange our home
in the harmony it requires.
His fee, of course, is nominal
to him only, and hardly one
we would incur with the expenses
of a new home, with two
of too many things, and none
of some necessities, which
our local merchants will provide
for their own nominal fees.
And I don’t know that I want
to pay to watch him move
two small pieces of pottery
and rehang our art so that
whatever Chinese gods
he channels will be pleased,
all while taking our home
away from us and leaving
a place of his we merely inhabit.
Religion, he said, is inherently illogical
and the older the religion, the more illogical
it becomes, accreting absurdity over time.
A corollary of this proposition is that
the more organized a religion claims to be,
the more its spirituality is buried under
rules and regulations which only illustrate
the principal proposition set forth above.
Humans create religion not to explain
the unexplainable but to justify ignorance
and their unwillingness to search and risk
finding answers that conflict with their
desired view of life and decomposition.
But, he concluded, do not for a second believe
that atheists have it right, for theirs
is a religion of utter illogic and rigidity
certain of the nonexistence of an idea that they
believe they can demonstrate, but have not,
and they will be damned if they will stop trying.
Platform shoes, velour
Nehru jackets, what the hell
were we thinking, and pink
velour, seriously, for men.
At least it was Hendrix, Byrds,
and not Pat Boone and Andy
Williams, almost the death
of music as we know it.
Reefers were evil, told us so,
and when we figured out it was
pot, we begged to differ, frequently
between hits on the bong,
after all joints required a certain
amount of dexterity in the rolling
and tjat progressively slipped away
with the afternoon sun.
Now it’s chardonnay and pinot
and a good reposado or anejo,
or a blanco if company appears
and triple sec then, never Cointreau.
The Buddha said that any task you do
if done mindfully is a sort of meditation.
We assume he said it, we’ve been told
he did, but no one I know was anywhere
near that bodhi tree, so we take it on faith.
When it comes to things like chopping
large quantities of onions, or roasting
coffee beans I totally get it, it does
seem like meditation, and deep at that.
Walking the dog makes the list, and
perhaps convincing the cat to do anything
she didn’t think of by out waiting her.
I can even accept washing the car
or the dishes, but washing the dog
is only so on rare occasions and only
if I medicate her first, and the cat, forget it.
But even Buddha would have to concede
that no matter how totally mindful
you are, driving anywhere in either
Broward or Miami-Dade counties is
as far from meditative as opting
to commit sepuku with a butter knife.
I admit I am an odd duck, odder for not being a duck at all. But the expression has a certain je ne sais quoi to it, as does that expression and I am all about language. All that is a long round about way of acknowledging that I have always wanted to use the word antiphonal in my writing. I’m not terribly religious, and what faith I had has long been shaken by a world gone mad. Or at least a country gone mad. And even when I had some faith, I subscribed to the syllogism that religions music was to music, as military food was to food. We won’t even mention military music, that is an abject oxymoron.