IN LOVING MEMORY (17 this time)

Just what will the puppet king say
or will he simply run and hide
as we are left to mourn and pray

Seventeen more are dead today,
we know better than to abide
just what will the puppet king say

more hollow words, for which they pay
“only more guns can stem the tide.”
As we are left to mourn and pray

children ask why there is a day
on which so many good friends died,
just what will the puppet king say,

what false compassion he’ll display.
As broken parents stand graveside,
as we are left to mourn and pray

we know the king dare not betray
those who bought him. We can’t decide
just what will the puppet king say
as we are left to mourn and pray.

 


Out of cycle, but coping takes many forms.

HOLOCAUST

Years later on, having walked
calmly away from my former faith,
I am left still pondering
where you find the words
to describe, to teach the unspeakable,
and how you use them to reach
children who have no right to know
the unspeakable, but who must,
lest they later speak it.
It was a generation ago for me, two
for them, three now for my own
grandchildren but the losses
they know are staggering: Las Vegas,
9/11, Manchester, Sandy Hook,
and on and on and on and on
and how do you help them grasp
the number six million, 10 million, when
they have but ten fingers,
shielding their eyes from the horror.

IN AN ALIEN LAND

He came, stayed a while,
and left, and it was only when
he was gone that most missed him.
Some say he will come back
but others are skeptical, and
no one really knows for certain.
Some actually say that he didn’t leave,
that he simply changed, and might
appear when no one expects him.
Several said it was a she, not a he.
No one was quite certain
of the person’s name, some said
it was Jesus, some said Buddha,
some said it was Tara, but the children
said it didn’t matter really,
that to see him, to see here,
all you needed was a mirror,
and the real name was simply Peace.

AGING GRACELESSLY

To know the road ahead
ask those coming back.
— Chinese Proverb

I have progressed to the point
that I no longer mark time
in neat segments based on rotation
of this world about that, now I am
measured against those around me, I
seek those with whom I share an age.
It is best to walk at noon, although
the sun is hottest then, for my shadow
draws inward, less exposed, but
it slowly creeps outward as the sun retreats.
I am of an age with the sun, I see myself
reflected in my children, who call
in the night as I have fled
into my sanctuary, away from yapping dogs.
My sons were, just days ago, standing
jaws clenched, before the batting tees,
they would throw down the bat
in disgust after a swing as the ball
toppled slowly to the ground, now one
sits in his cramped office just out of sight
of the river and mulls that moment
of time before there was time, the other
finds structure in the randomness of thought.
I am of an age with that moment
of time before time
I am of an age with that random thought.


First Appeared in Alembic, Winter, 1999-2000.

MILES FROM HERE

Some say Miles said

it’s the space

between the notes –
that’s where the music is.
We heard him, we smiled,
we anticipated the next
note and the next.
Outside my window
a blue jay
recites his morning prayer,
the child’s laugh
breaks the frozen sky
and shivers the maple.
Then all is silence –
even the wind
holds its breath
not in anticipation
but to create the void
that nature craves.
If we allow ourselves
in, Miles blows
the song of God
one
note
at
a
time.