ON THE TENTH PLAGUE

Mark your doorpost with the blood
of the lamb for this may be the night
when God’s emissary arrives for the killing
of the first born. Will he be a night bird
half raven, half vulture or an aged man
concealing his weapon in shabby robes.

Mark your doorpost and check it
often for if your neighbor wipes
the blood away, you will be visited
and no amount of pleading will
deter him from his task. There
are no interim plagues remaining to buy
you time, if he chooses to come tonight.

Put your ear against the window
and listen for him. Will he come
on cat’s paws or the rasp of lungs
slowly drowning?. Will coins jangle
in his pocket, to pay your fare
to the ferryman?

But if you do not believe,
perhaps he will forget to come.

First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)

OUT OF THE NURSERY

The one question that has never had
a proper answer still bothers me.
Actually it gives rise to multiple questions
which synergistically expand my displeasure.

I get she had a lamb, and I don’t question
why, nor why hers was little, full size lambs
are far more common, and seriously
what did she do, bleach it every few days?

But those are minor points, really, because
we all know Mary was truly nomadic
and a real urban girl, city to city with
as little time in the country as possible.

The real question is where she kept
whatever it was the lamb so badly wanted,
because lambs don’t willingly leave their
mothers and not for some female Svengali.

WORD

If I asked you for one word
how would you answer?
In your dreams, do you have
both arms, can you write
your thoughts on a scrap
of paper and tuck it away?
You had a lover, once,
and he would trace
his finger along your thigh.
Do you miss that touch
as you rub the jagged scar?
Can you taste the lamb
simmered slowly, fragrant,
the sauce dredged
by the crusty bread,
or do you only taste
the hard tack tossed
from the truck?
If they gave you
back your tongue
and I asked you for one word
how would you answer?


First published in “Eureka Literary Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2,(c) 1997, Eureka College