EARLY IN THE SECOND BOOK

She wrapped him carefully
in an old blanket and several
sections of the Times and put him
in the basket with the broken handle
she found out behind the Safeway
near the culvert that was home
until the rains came.
She placed him among the weeds
and beer bottles, where the river’s smell
licked the wicker, and she hoped
he would be found quickly.
She envisioned him at the right hand
of Kings, holding forth on all
manner of life and death,
princes seeking his insight,
hanging on his words. He
would not be like others
dying at the hand, whim of wealth.
He was found a week later
lodged against a grate
at the intake of the power station
and placed in a far corner
of the city cemetery under
a simple stone “Baby Doe.”


First Published in Backchannels Journal, Ed. 2, 2019
https://www.backchannelsjournal.net/edition-no-2-2019

WALKING

He walks slowly, with a stoop, born of time or knowledge of a world that has seeped away. He smiles, but you cannot tell if it is at the worm slowly crossing the sidewalk, or the young woman pulling on the leash of her far too large dog. He could walk this route with his eyes closed, has done so to prove a point, but he knows he might hit someone. That happens when his eyes are open, given his stoop. He has become a student of shoes, and in summer, of feet. He can tell a great deal about a person by her feet. He prefers women’s feet. They care and it shows. He’s amazed how calloused and dirty men’s feet often are, as if washing them was always going to be an afterthought. He knows the day is coming when he will no longer be able to walk. When that day comes, he hopes they will just put him in a pine box and not wrap him in a blanket and wheel him around, swabbing the drool from his chin. He was a baby once, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience that time either.

 

HELL’S PRISONER

I am pressed into a seat
that would conform only
to the body of some alien creature,
or so it seems, for hours
into a flight that increasingly
seems eternal, particularly for the baby
two rows back, who, like me
would much rather be anywhere else.
The crew dims the cabin lights
the universal indicator of “Don’t
think of bothering us, we fed you
and will give you a snack in the morning,
only if you behave, so
off to sleep with you all.”
As my back and neck rebel, I
remind myself it could be far worse,
the food poisoned, perhaps, not
merely inedible, for this, despite
appearances, is only the second ring of hell.

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.

THANKS

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 remembering things for which
I probably should be thankful.

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.