POSER

For unknown reasons I
was told I was going to
sit for a portrait by a well
known local artist.

It was a gift, so I had
little choice but to accept,
and so I sat on a chair
frozen in place.

I asked how long it
would take and he replied
“Not more than four sittings
and then I can go to work.”

I pointed out that like
a Buddhist river, I could
never pose the same way
twice, each time would be different.

He smiled and said
the painting would be
a Post-modernist
so my pose hardly mattered.

MY RABBI (PART 2)

I tell him I am thinking of becoming
a rabbi, someone just like him,
a man who saw so many through
all manner of crises, joyous events.

He sits back in his unsteady chair,
one he refuses to replace, this one
finally broken in, he says with that
gentle smile that melts anger, anxiety.

You would do well at it, I know, he says,
and I will gladly write you a recommendation
but think about this carefully, it is
not the life you might imagine it to be.

But before you decide, he adds,
reaching among a stack of books,
read these, handing me two volumes
that I did not imagine would change my life.

And somewhere, I have my own copies
of Alan Watt’s “Beat Zen, Square Zen and Zen”
and “The Book:On the Taboo Against
Knowing Who You Are?”, and I then knew.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY

I am just wondering
what you would say
if you were called
to testify about all
that you had seen,
all that had disgusted you,
all that you condemned
but did and said
nothing while it occurred.
What would you say
if you had no choice
but truth, no shading,
no mincing of words,
just the harsh light
and you in a chair
in an empty room,
a disembodied voice
asking endless questions?
It is best that you
remain silent, say
nothing at all,
for we have already
judged you, and you
know your own guilt.

First appeared in Literary Cocktail Magazine, Fall Issue 2022, Volume I Issue II
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VEgeWfNp5SFGSm8nW8QegM1WuNUa_s99/view

DESIGN?

I still have grave doubts
about designers in general, clothing
houses in more particular,
and above all furniture.

You have to ask if the person
who designed this chair
was somehow incapable of sitting,
or simply wanted something
that looked artistic, to hell
with the comfort of its occupant.

And some designers take this
to extremes, hoping perhaps
for some measure of eternal recognition.
Take for example the Adirondack chair,
found throughout the northeast
on porches and in yards,
in a myriad of colors,
that no one ever seems
to sit on, for good reason.

IT IS TIME

It is time they said, but they never said what it was time for, although they seem to know. It wasn’t like he was going anywhere, confined to this chair, a quadriplegic. He was the chair really as he had no way of moving it. He had no way of moving anything except by putting it in his mouth. So why, he wondered, did they tell him it was time. It was gratuitous at best and he had a watch strapped to his chair so he knew what time it was. But time meant nothing to him. When you are a prisoner as he was in his body time was merely your sentence and in his case it was likely life without parole

WORKSHOP

Grace settles into the chair,
less an act of sitting than
of floating down onto the seat.
She has borrowed my grandmother’s
smile, kind, gentle, inviting.
She pulls a book from her bag,
its pages or most of them
dog eared, and I glimpse
some annotations in the margins.
We sit around her like children
awaiting presents on a holiday,
as acolytes seeking knowledge
from a font of poetic and prosaic
wisdom, or so we think.
She reads in a voice that is
at once soft and loud enough
to reach the back of the room,
opening the book to a random
page and diving in, then after
what seems like a minute and
an hour, she stops and asks
for questions. We sit dumbstruck
for a moment then fire at her
like machine gunners on the range.
She answers each, claims she is
a simple grandmother who writes
but we know better, know we
are in the presence of a true master.

RAINY DAY

The rain came sideways today, or almost so. The cat decided that if she needed a bath, she’d give it to herself and opted to watch the storm through the sliding glass door to the lanai. When it ended, she ventured back out, checking out the various and sundry chairs, all hers she assumes, and settled for the recliner in the inner corner, as much for dryness as comfort, but clearly offering both. She invited us out to join her, but all of the other seats were damp from the storm. She didn’t see what that was a problem, she had only the one coat, we could change clothes any time we wanted. We decided to watch her through the sliding glass door.

WE COULD

We could, if you want,
sit in the park on our folding
chairs or better a folded blanket
and stare out over the pond,
its silver surface shirred
by a midday breeze.

We could picnic, sandwiches
of brie and apples, or for us
hummous with tahini and
a bottle of chardonnay, carefully
poured into plastic glasses
imagining themseles crystal.

The dragonflies would ignore us,
busy doing what we cannot see,
though we might draw the eye
of a great egret, for they like
nothing more than to stare
at the strangeness around them.

THE ROOM

It was a strange room,
that much I recall, with heavy
velvet curtains covering
what should have been a window, 
and might once have been, but no longer. 

The only light was a bare bulb
in the ceiling, casting 
a soft amber wash across 
the time worn oak floor,
and once white walls.

There was a chair, nondescript
and now long forgotten
and a small metal table, once
gray its paint flaking, its surface
mottled and uneven.

Still, I sat in that room
for an hour each day, staring
at the walls, and looking deeply
within, and finding both empty,
have never returned there.

SIPPING

I spent much of the afternoon trying
to imagine you, spending a small part
of an afternoon reading this poem.

I have no clear picture of where you are,
but the chair is well cushioned, and
you sit deeply in it, a glass of some

amber liquid on the glass and metal
end table, just within arm’s reach.
I suppose, since it is early afternoon,

it is iced tea, bit I wish it were a fine
IPA or better still a fine single malt,
though that much would give my poem

a meaning I never imagined, but
that might be an improvement, and
I think I’ll stop here and join you.