A SHORT LONG LINE

There is a statue of William Penn
atop the city hall in Philadelphia
seeming to stare down over the city
with bronze eyes incapable of seeing.
Hagar wandered the wilderness
after she was evicted by Abraham
at Sarah’s urging, the price
of jealousy, with bread and water
and the promise of a great nation.
It is pure speculation whether
Hagar was enslaved and freed
or, as we would claim it today,
employed by the family. In the end
the distinction matters little.
Penn remains blind atop the building
Hagar and Ishmael are long dead,
and Jefferson likely had children
with one of his slaves, or so
the DNA evidence indicates.
I am of Norwegian and Scottish
patrilineal heritage it appears
though my great nation is
a six year old girl and
almost three year old boy.

EARLY MORNING

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).

MIDDLE C

Mrs. Weiskopf lived in a small cottage
Mrs. Weiskopf taught piano in her living room.
Mrs. Weiskopf had no first name, even
checks were to be made payable to Mrs. Weiskopf.
Mrs. Weiskopf grew suddenly old, some said,
to full fit into her name, no one could
remember her ever being young.
Mrs. Weiskopf said I must always find Middle C,
that everything starts there.
Mrs. Wieskopf was not pleased when I said
that Middle C was key number 40 on my piano
and there was no middle key, only
a gap between E4 and F4.
Mrs. Weiskopf looked at me sternly
and ended my lesson early that day.
Mrs. Weiskopf was a great teacher.
I think of her each time I sit down
and place the doumbek on my lap.

SHE HOPES

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.

E-MOTION

 She says she is angry and he finds that easy to understand.  He as given up on anger, he finds it too exhausting and ultimately of such little value he has moved permanently on to cynicism and disdain.  She says she finds little benefit in either, and having a certain amount of faith gives her the only premise she has found for moral superiority.  He claims he has never felt to superior to anyone, and he knows it is a lie when he says it, for he feels superior to most, except her, for he fears that would anger her.  He has felt the passion and heat of her anger an it is not a place he wants to be, but he cannot be away from her for any length of time or he finds his cynicism replaced by longing and that borders on real emotion, which is what he most dreads.  Well that, and Brussels sprouts with cheese. Almost any cheese; the thought of loss of love, and under cooked asparagus.

THANKFUL

She said I should be thankful that I am not a rice farmer. She said that I should be thankful that I am not over seven feet tall, and not  less than four feet eight inches, although she concedes that four feet nine would not be  cause for celebration. She says I should be thankful I was not dropped on my head as a baby. I am thankful for all of these things, and for her, for she saves me countless hours remember things for which I probably should be thankful.

HANGING

She says she feels like she is getting to the end of her rope. He tells her to hold on more tightly, that he will search for additional rope and when he finds it, tie the new rope to the old. She says he could just go out and buy a new rope, much longer that the one to which she is clinging. He says she would have to pay for it and to get the money, she would have to let go of the rope to which she clings. She lets go of the rope and walks away, leaving it in a jumble at his feet.