HOLY ARMY

1.

A millennium ago
the army of the lord
dressed in mail and rode
proud steeds across
barren lands, swords
flashing in a red roasting sun
washed in the blood
of the infidels.
They stopped for prayer
blessing the bodies
left along the dirt track
left by their hooves,
a common grave
for common faces
differing only in the color
of skin and hair.

2.

In this millennium
the army of the lord
slouches outside the mall
rubbing hands against
the chill, the bell bleating
against the night,
a barren moon reflects
off the red kettle.
As they locked the doors
he pulled the flask
from his hip pocket
and thought of the bodies
passing by, swerving
to avoid him, and the
forty dollars he would get
would warm
his frozen skin.

First Appeared in Lullwater Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1998. Reprinted in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2005.

WATING GAME

We pull in to the parking lot where
our mailboxes are arrayed like
so many graves at Arlington, or more
like the drawers in a low cost mausoleum.

This is the new Postal Service, sharing
the burden of the need to cut costs
even at the expense of services.

Standing nearby are two Sandhill
Cranes watching the postal worker
carefully unload the trays of mail
and buckets of packages, soon to be
slotted and eventually carried away.

The birds stare at us, knowing it seems
that they are protected, and we need
to walk and drive around them, for they
have no intention of yielding ground to us,
certain they were here first and they say
they tolerate us only barely, and if we
doubt that, they will explain
in pointed detail with their beaks.

We walk around them and wonder how
they would hope to open the metal box
where any mail they might receive
will soon enough be deposited.