HELL’S PRISONER

I am pressed into a seat
that would conform only
to the body of some alien creature,
or so it seems, for hours
into a flight that increasingly
seems eternal, particularly for the baby
two rows back, who, like me
would much rather be anywhere else.
The crew dims the cabin lights
the universal indicator of “Don’t
think of bothering us, we fed you
and will give you a snack in the morning,
only if you behave, so
off to sleep with you all.”
As my back and neck rebel, I
remind myself it could be far worse,
the food poisoned, perhaps, not
merely inedible, for this, despite
appearances, is only the second ring of hell.

TO A POET, TO THE WEST

Richard Wilbur lives in Massachusetts
and in Key West, Florida according
to his dust jackets. If you set sail westward
from San Diego you may find your dream
of China, of the endless wall which draws
the stares and wonder more foreboding
more forbidden even than the city,
which you visit to sate yourself of lights,
sirens and the blood heat of steam grates.
It is far easier than digging and far less
dirty, and the walls of the sea rise
more slowly. Once it was a risky journey
the danger of the edge looming over the horizon,
but then digging was no option, pushing deeper
with your crude shovel, knees bloody,
until, at last, you broke through
with dreams of the dragon as you fell
into the limitless void. Now you sail
with dreams of the Pacific sky, although
water has no need of names. The poet
has grandchildren now, and it is to them
to dream of the China that was.


First appeared in Midnight Mind, Number Two (2001) and again in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, (2008)

IF EINSTEIN WAS

If Einstein was correct
relatively speaking,
the arrow of time,
rusted in place, indomitable,
can be freed, torn
from its mooring
and set adrift
defying its natural
inclination.  

                        As the lights
of Seoul were engulfed
by a blanket of clouds
which in turn ebbed,
revealing a universe
spread out, and I settled
slowly into sleep,
Thursday faded into
dreams.

                    First sun sliced
through the interstices
of the shades as fog dissipated
from San Francisco Bay.
Like Jonah, having
atoned, I crawled
from the belly
of a great beast,
metallic Sheol, and stepped
into a Ninevah of glass
and steel, rubbing
eyes, rejecting day.
Stumbling the corridors
and down a ramp
I slid into my seat.
As gravity was again
defied, Thursday
unfolded, inviting but
having learned nothing
I faded into dreams.

SEOUL NIGHTS

they wander

            up and down

                        cluttered streets

    alleys

            under blazing signs

                        OP.10 Nightclub

      Club Alaska

               Hesed Disco

streets taped

            with posters

                        Dancoh Discotheque

               young men flicking

                                    business cards

   cardboard confetti

                        Venturi “Coffee and Whiskey”

              neon flashing Bulgari Nigh Club

            young women

                        almost girls

                                    tight pants

              shorter skirts

                        dreaming husbands

                                    Moody Blues Rock and Country

     Radio Gaga

                           young men dreaming

            young men’s’ dreams

                                    blaring speakers

               drowning horns

                        Donna Summers wanna be’s

            kimchi and Kentucky Mash

    business men dreaming

                                    young men’s’ dreams