APART-IAL EXPLANATION

It is all to often debated
what sets humans apart
the other species, and that
will not be agreed any time soon
(which a cynic would note
is one such thing itself).

Freud would claim it is only
our ego, our sense of self,
which may explain why people
are so capable of being self-
ish, and I suspect he was
certain he was wholly correct
but I would give him only partial credit.

It is far simpler than that: record
your voice, record a Sandhill
crane and play them back
and I assure you that you
will say you sound nothing
like what the recorder heard
while the crane will nervously
look all around for his unseen kin.

LBD PLEASE

She says every woman
should own a little black dress,
and during the time she tries them on
I am thinking what she meant was
every man should be married to
and in love with a woman
who wears a little black dress
as well as she does, but I say
It looks really nice on you,
You should buy it, and
I think, I will
find events to which you
can where it frequently, because
it looks so good on you, and you
in that little black dress
make me look so good
standing next to you, and men,
although they will never admit it,
are all so often about reflected glory.

LOST AND FOUND

He cannot be certain when he lost it. He isn’t even sure where he lost it. He knew he had it, had it for years, and then, once when he looked for it, it was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t all that upset at the loss. It was more that it was familiar, that he was accustomed to it, not that it had in intrinsic or extrinsic value. In fact, he had already replaced it the moment he noticed it was missing. Still he couldn’t help but wonder where it had gone, and why he hadn’t noticed its loss at the moment it occurred. Or had he? But ego could be like that, and it was comforting to know the replacements were stacked up and waiting.

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.

COGITO

She said, “I truly think
that a large part of your problem
is that you spend too much time
thinking about what other
people think of you.”
He wasn’t inclined to agree,
but she did think that so
he had to give it consideration.
“I don’t think so,” he replied,
“but if you think so, then perhaps.”
“What I think doesn’t matter,”
she said, smiling, “I remember
some of the best advice
I have ever been given,
‘What other people think of me
is simply none of my business.'”

DEAR CASS

She’s getting downright boring,
every night lying up there,
staring down when she decides
to part the clouds, saying nothing,
as though all of the words of praise
for her must come for us, unreturned.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised
by her vanity, it is why, after all,
she is up there now, unable to move
and we have to accept that our words
are small salve to her when the gods
invert her, and she is left
to gaze down upon us in her mirror
when she bothers to stop
gazing at her own image, but she says,
“I have all eternity, Poseidon be damned.”

ODE TO THE CAT

I read a poem today
about a cat
and the memory
of my last cat came to mind,
and with it,
the certainty
that cats
have an innate sense
of people which people
utterly lack.
It may be that cats
are completely ignorant
of the masks we wear,
or simply that
they could care less
how we see ourselves
and only measure us
by what we offer them.
In that sense, of course
they are people as well.

DHAMMAPADA

A foolish man sits at the edge
of the pond, his feet
perfectly still in the water.
He stares into the mirrored surface
and sees a fool, smiles
as a ginkgo leaf floats
like a sail on a morning breeze
onto the pool, ripples
radiate out, touching his toes
and he smiles, and the fool
lying beneath smiles.

A foolish man stands
in the road, staring
into the pavement, transfixed.
He stares into the silvered sheen
left by a morning rain
and sees a man of substance
in fine clothes, and man servants
awaiting a command,
and he smiles, and walks on
with the man of substance
on a road with no end
leading nowhere.