A MEETING OF THIEVES

The squirrel on the lawn stood,
his little eyes boring into me
as I stepped out of the front door.

He threw out his chest, and I
half expected him to beat on it
with his forepaws, a rodent Tarzan.

I, of course, had no choice but
to stare back at him defiantly,
making clear I wasn’t easily cowed.

Finally, I broke the silence, and said
“Let’s be honest for once, we both
know what we are, and we are

very much the same, for you steal
the nuts from my trees as I
steal the beauty of the early dawn.”

“Agreed,” he replied, “and there’s
a very good chance neither of us
will remember where we hid our prize.”

RIVER

I know I should find a river
and just sit on its banks
and stare at the water flowing

I don’t have to step in it once
to know I couldn’t step in twice
if I wanted, so that problem’s solved.

And with dry feet, I can walk
along its banks with a bit more
jaunt in my step, which should

please the river, for I know that
it has long been watching me
as I frequently visit, and I would

like to think we are old friends,
at least that is what the lake
said during my last visit there.

MEMORY OF THE VINE

The conversation flows freely,
piles up on the table, amid
dishes from a meal
now fully consumed, as the
last of the wine reluctantly
cedes its grip on the bottle
and settles into the glasses.
In Abruzzi, the vintner
imagined this, staring
at the grapes pulled lovingly
from the now ancient vines.
As night draws its curtain
ever tighter, as hugs
replace the conversation,
the rest of the grapes
settle in for a final sleep.

A CALL

The thing about it is
it is so damn quiet
I can hear myself think
but I can’t think anymore.

And I’ll tell you
this box is so cold
it just leaks air
and water has seeped in.

Somehow I expected more
it isn’t at all what
was promised
and the stone

is not set straight
which is driving me
only slightly crazy,
so tell me

about my grandsons
are they still handsome
young men, do they have
girlfriends like your wife.

You know steel would
have worn far better
and white satin
would be so much

more cheerful than this blue,
it just clashes with
this white gown
which fits terribly anyway.

You should come to visit
more often, Hilda’s son
and all her grandchildren
visit each week, but me, no one.

Its starting to rain again
so go, you don’t want
to catch a cold, it could
kill you, of this I’m certain.


First appeared in Children, Churches & Daddies 1999 Vol 117

THE LAST TIME

The last time we spoke
you asked me when the end was coming.
I didn’t have a good answer for you,
wasn’t even quite sure what you meant
by the question, the end of what? Of time,
of your life or mine, or merely the end
of a conversation we had been
carrying on for as long
as either of us could remember.
That was some time ago
and I have thought about
your question quite frequently
and seeing you today,
you walking by me
without acknowledging me,
I realize the answer
should have been
and most certainly now is
that the end came
the moment you
started your question.

DREAMS

Dreams are a place
where the dead are free to walk about,
where they speak in voices
barely recalled, but which seem
so familiar to the ear.
They are willing to engage you
in conversations left unfinished,
you are always surprised
at what they have to say,
at how it is not at all
what you expected or wished from them.
You tolerate this in your dreams
because you know that you will
soon awaken, and the dead
will retreat from the sun
to await the dark night’s return.

RELATIVELY SPEAKING

“We created time,”
he said, “so we
are free to ignore it
whenever we wish,
don’t tell me
that I am late,
for that is only
by your clock
and you should know
that most clocks
are never right.
It is only the stopped clock
that is right, and that
only twice each day.”
We nervously stared
at our watches, finally
saying, “so sorry but we
are late for something
critical, and will
see you tomorrow,
same time, same place.”

TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR

He says what he wants most
is to own a star, outright, no sharing.

She says that he already does,
at least a part of one,
and he should be happy with that.

He laughs at her, and reminds
her that stars are huge, and
even a part of one would
light the room and his life.

She says she
can see them everywhere
and he could to if he
would just look carefully.

He says she is just
making noise to quiet him.

She says all it took
was a big bang and much time.

He glows when he hears this.

AN OVERHEARD CONVERSATION

“It will never be what you think it should,
and not what you wish it to be,
unless by pure happenstance, so just
relax and allow things to happen as they will.”

“I know I can change the outcome, have
it conform more to my will with enough effort,
if others like you don’t get in the way,
so sit back and I will gladly show you.”

“Do what you wish, I won’t be a problem,
but when it doesn’t work out, do not
come to me complaining about the time
you wasted and I won’t say ‘told you so.'”

“Fine, then just sit there and watch,
but when the fish jump into my mouth
please remember they are mine and you
still have to dive for your dinner.”

A CONVERSATION

She said,
“You’re breaking my heart,”
as though
it was a small twig which,
stepped upon,
splinters with a small pop,
pieces flying
in opposition, lost on the forest floor,
waiting patiently
for the next errant step
to further
subdivide until the bits
are indistinguishable
and slowly rot into the soil.
I said,
“My emotions are running away,”
as though
they strapped on Saucony’s
and fled
into the night, dodging
among trees
until they grew ever smaller
quickly receding
into the all-engulfing void.