Between Scylla and Charybdis they cower amidst the ruins fearful to look skyward lest they encourage the rains of hell.
Now and then they visit the corpses, hastily buried grief drowned by the sound of the laugh of the gunner peering down from the hills. It is always night for the soul and lookout must be kept for Charon, who rides silently along the rivers of blood, that flow through her streets.
In the great halls, far removed from the horror, self-professed wise men exchange maps lines randomly drawn, scythes slicing a people. They trade in lives as chattel, reaping a bitter harvest, praying there may only be but seven lean years.
They offer a sop to Cerberus, three villages straddling the river, but the army of the hills knows they will take that and more and waits patiently for the winter when the odor of sanctity no longer arises out of the city to assail their nostrils and Shadrach is no more than a ghost.
First Appeared in Living Poets (UK), Vol. 2, No. 1, 2000.
In entering, do you arrive or are you leaving. In departing do you leave or are you arriving. Can the gate answer or does it choose to remain silent. The mountain shouts the answer but only the river can hear it.
A reflection on case 30 of the Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Eye)
Consider them very carefully for you will have only this chance and you don’t want to add those which ought not be included or be forever burdened by those you overlooked or misassumed you wanted to retain. When you are quite certain you are finished, that your list is exactly as you wish it, that all your dislikes and regrets are properly delineated, then walk slowly to the river, pen at the ready, and write them with a precise hand upon the water.
It should be the stories behind the stories that get told. We have to blame the songwriters I suppose, telling only the part of the story they choose, leaving us to sit and wonder, no answers, forthcoming. We all know what happened to Billie Joe and the damned Talahatchee Bridge, but how did Becky Thompson snare the brother and for that matter, why Tupelo? And Mr. Jones, how does he know what’s happening and not know what it is, and why in the hell is he so thin? But Suzanne, she was a real piece of work, always with the river, but ask all you want and she won’t say what river it is and Jesus says, simply, come back later, you’re not a sailor yet.
Fourth floor, Antwerp Hilton, night encasing the Schelde, ragout of boar and claret slowly regurgitating, I pause ancient words, stutteringly said, hand on my head a shoddy cover two parts of eight fully remembered one section only in part, turning East or a best guess. I ask nothing, or perhaps too much it is hard to know, CNN International offers no clue, no guidance, head bowed, knees bent the carpet has a burn hole, Ani, I am, I do hear I always hear, now rest and share my peace.
First Appeared in Oasis: A Literary Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 2, October-December 1997.
On our first visit to Prague it was almost hard to imagine that this bridge was built to ferry people and traffic across the River. Now it is jammed with tourists and those for whom tourists are a ubiquitous market, and anyone needing to expeditiously cross the cranky water that every now and again must indulge the bridge, or use the less interesting bridges adjacent. There is a veneer of age about this ancient the statuary darkened by time and weather replaced when the waters get truly petulant and carry off statues they deem an affront. Motion on the bridge is slow and can tend toward gridlock, to the joy of those selling art and tchotchkes, and tchotchke arts that won’t be truly regretted by the buyer until it is hung on the wall next to the waterglobe miniatures of St. Matthias church and the parliament buildings Budapest.