She doesn’t arrive. We knew she likely would not arrive. We are not certain why she has chosen not to arrive. She is good at arrivals. She is good at not making arrivals. If she said why she didn’t arrive we would accept that reason. We would also question that reason. She is good at giving reasons. She is good at giving reasons that are not real reasons. So we wait, for perhaps one day she will arrive.
They sit or stand patiently
on the jetty, a concrete path
jutting out into the ocean.
The old timers have two
lines out, bait bucket
sitting in the bicycle-wheeled
cart parked on the edge
of the jetty’s bouldered margin.
You don’t ask what they’ve
caught, that would be obvious,
and you know they are here for
the act of fishing, and the catch
is that there never is
the expectation of one.
You need not apologize, for we
do not expect it, and would
not accept it as freely given.
It is not that you have not
done so much to warrant it,
for that list is long and replete
with all manner of sins.
It is simply that we are not
in a mood to accept an apology,
denied so long, for hollow words
have no real meaning to us now.
And our mood will not change
until you atone for those sins,
for atonement is more than sorry,
it is the work of undoing
and you have so very much
They leap from the walls,
they are in your face as you approach.
You don’t know what to expect
and that is precisely how they wish it.
Still, you don’t tire of them, and you
don’t recoil, but stare more intently.
They engage you, defy you and welcome
in the same moment, and you
only want to follow them deep
within the cinder block, the plaster,
and take up residence alongside them,
and from afar, the mural artists smile.
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You imagine tomorrow will arrive
without warning or notice, and even
though you are skeptical, you accept
the possibility, and if it doesn’t arrive
what are the odds you will miss it?
If, as expected, it arrives, what the hell, it
was supposed to do that so nothing is odd
about it, and if not, well you never
really expected it to, it’s the blessing
of a shortening memory, so you win either way.
And so you go on with today, and when
not if, tomorrow comes you’ll be there
since you will recall your doubt
and you’ll assume it is nothing more
than the fall of the next domino
in the perpetual parade.
You so very want
there to be no ending
but there must be, just
as there had to be a beginning
and you had no say about that.
Endings are hard, they remind you
of small deaths, all but one,
but each is also a birth of sorts,
and like you know, they arise
and you have no say about them.
These few lines will
soon enough draw to an end
although that may be one
you don’t so much mind.
But as you put them away
they are the beginning of a thought
you never imagined would arise.
There is probably much that could be said,
a bit less that should be said, but I
I’m not the person to say it, and remain silent.
You are surprised by the silence — it is
not what you expect of me, and that
you find disconcerting and a bit unnerving.
If I asked you what you would have me say,
I doubt you could find anything in particular.
It is more the sound of my voice you expect,
not the words I choose to utter or retain.
It all comes down to words, doesn’t it?
And yet they fail us with such regularity,
we each must wonder why we speak at all.
Morning arrived as usual today
and we shook ourselves slowly
from sleep to greet it.
As we rose and drew open
the curtains and blinds
all that morning had to say,
and said rather imperiously
was “where is the coffee —
you can’t expect a damn thing
from me until I’ve had
at least two cups,
and brew them strong and black,
like the night I
chased off to get here.”
I will be going soon
and this is what I would leave you:
I would leave you my dreams
of a world at peace, where compassion
comes as an expectation not a surprise,
a place where the arrival
of the sun is a source of joy
for with it and the rains,
you, no one, will ever want for food,
centers where all can learn
and knowledge, like the universe
which we inhabit will
continue to expand,
but my dreams may
not be gift enough unless we
turn from those who care
to leave no dreams, taking
only for themselves in this moment,
for who tomorrow will always be
someone else’s problem.
I never expected this, he said. It came from out of nowhere. None of us predicted it. It’s a sort of thing that happens elsewhere, but not here, at least that was our assumption. We certainly never wanted it to come to this. But come it did, and so we accepted it. We learned to like the placidity of its face. We were lost for a while but our lives returned to their normal pace, the rhythms of the day overwhelmed us, and our lives went on. We never bothered to fashion a new year. We were satisfied with perfection twice each day.