RESOUNDING SILENCE*

(*Be forewarned, this is a shift from the usual post. On December 14, 1992 there was a shooting on the campus of Simon’s Rock College of Bard. A professor and student died, four others (my son included) were seriously wounded. Twenty years to the day later, in Connecticut 26 people died in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then there have been so many, many other mass shootings in our country. This is in honor of all the victims, alive and departed.)

— In memory of Galen Gibson and Nacunan Saez, victims of a greater insanity, December 14, 1992

It was a night much like this
but for a quarter century’s slow elapse.
It was a place much like this
resting beneath freshly fallen snow.
          The solution is quite simple He
          wrote, we need only round them up,
          ship them to the desert.
          If AIDS doesn’t take them
          in ten years, we can
          finish the job then.

It was a night much like this
His “then” has come but there
is no job left for Him to finish
          He offered them up
          as a sacrifice to His god
          Tonight they have no body
          to offer to our tongues, no blood
          for our lips.
          We have only settled ground
          of barren altars
          outside Buenos Aires,
          in a snow shrouded Gloucester.
          We have no icons
          through which to channel our prayer
          save the flattened lead slugs
          the earth rejects.

It was a night much like this
          but Galen’s blood no longer stains the snow
          piled along side the library door,
          there are no shards
          of windshield, bits of skull
          where Nacuñan looked
          momentarily into His eyes.
          There is no blood tonight
          on the stairs to my son’s apartment
          nor on the dormitory stairs he limped that night
          to escape what he could not see
          his legs rejecting him.

It was a night much like this one
          but the walls are bare
          there are no gurneys
          pressed against the wall,
          gurneys I needed to believe,
          convinced myself, were
          starched sheet covered supplies.

LOST IN A DREAM

In my dream last night, I was lost
in a city of mostly dogs, but what was odd
is that they were all standard poodles
who only wanted to lick my hand and cheek.
I tell you this not because the dream
was unusual, it was in fact rather mundane.
I didn’t awaken with a damp face,
and there was no indication I
had been visited by a dog’s tongue.
I tell you this because you must
imagine how truly strange it was
for all of those dogs to meet
but a single human lost in a dream
that they couldn’t hope to comprehend.

THIN EDGE

He is certain he has the answer
and is imply waiting for someone
to ask the correct question.
He knows he cannot be wrong
For if the answer seems so
it is only because the wrong
question was asked, and that
would hardly be his fault.
He tells people this, asking
that they carefully consider
what the right question would be.
Eventually someone always
gets it right, merely asks
“Are you crazy?” to which
he responds, “isn’t it obvious?”

OLD MONK

The old monk stooped carefully,
gingerly picking each browning leaf
from the dry garden and gently
placing it in the sack he carried.
With each leaf he would increase
his count, always certain that it
fully fell into the sack.
When the last leaf was picked
and even the autumn tree
dared not drop another this day,
the monk dumped the leaves
onto the stone of the garden
and stooped carefully,
gingerly picking each browning leaf.
A watching visitor asked the abbot
if the monk had dementia,
but the abbot smiled and said,
“He is the sanest one among us,
watch how he wholly engages his practice.”

TRANSITIONS

Dusk is that hour
when the mind and eyes
mark the slow transition
from light to dark.
As day slides off,
things that were obvious,
things that once were simple,
grow in complexity
until the intricacy
threatens to overwhelm you.
When night fully settles,
sanity returns grudgingly
and the memory of dusk
is but a pebble nestling
the bottom of the pond.