PAPAL EDICT

She said “now what they’ve taken away limbo”
sounding a bit depressed,
“not that you proceed express
to the ferry dock, but
that was a snap, all
you were carefully taught
is suddenly wrong or irrelevant.
“It would be like Isaac,”
I say, “climbing Mount Moriah
with Abraham finding a ram
tethered to a waiting altar.”
My mother wants to know
how I can claim to be once Jewish
as though the moyel
also took my freedom of religion.
“We have no hell” she reminds me
“at least after death.”
I silently respond
and try to tell her that
I still don’t have a hell,
at least not as she conceives it.
“But I read,” she says, “the Tibetan
Book of the Dead, and hell
is very, very real.”
I tell her my Buddhism is Chinese
through a fine Japanese filter
and it is the next life
in which I will pay for this one.
She says “I wouldn’t want
to come back again,” and
on that point we find
the beginnings of common ground.

FUGUE

The name on the door
says Richard Strauss
though the lack of music
emanating from within the room
suggests he may be napping
or off doing something more important
than entertaining those of us
out in the hall of the nursing home.
It’s no surprise, he’d be
in a home now, more odd that
he isn’t long dead, but music
has a life of its own, so too musicians.
Johann Bach and I discussed this
just other night, though he
said he has little use
for so much of today’s music,
“It all went to Hades after Wolfgang,
Ludwig and Johannes, but
what do I know, since I am now
just one more of the ancients.”
Johann added, “I’d like to stay
and talk, but when you
are my age, well, tempus fugit,
and I must, therefore, bid you farewell.”
I slid quickly back into
the fugue state of my dreams.

OMNIPOTENCE

In my dream God came to me,
said “look, I need a break, some
real time away from the job, not just
one day a week, where it’s all I can do
to keep up, but a serious vacation,
call it a Sabbatical if you want.
I need someone to hold the fort
and was wondering if you had
any interest. Just don’t do anything
too perverse and pretend, at least,
to listen to their endless pleas.”

The gravamen, the omniness of it all,
the chance to wildly stir the karmic stew
to gain that exquisite revenge
that practicality and reality deny.
Or peace even, universal, the
answer to a thousand prophesies,
there with no thunder, lightening,
mushrooming clouds, just there
like a fog that creeps
into San Francisco Bay.
That would do it, shock the hell
out of them, so used to strife,
petty and global, here one minute
gone the next, Eden, at least until
old Darwin and Malthus
kick in and they slowly starve.

No thanks, I’ll pass.