BUSINESS SUITS

“What do you think is the likelihood
of success in the long run,” she asks,
and I watch the fly land on my forearm,
perched on hairs that barely

bend under his inconsequential weight.
His wings are a perpetual twitch,
almost unseen, and felt only as a faint
breeze in my imagination, while a world

is created, a reality collapses, a butterfly
is born and dies, and the fly stares at me
a thousand faces the same, each processed
in turn, digested and stored in

a finite space, overwritten by
the next face, flower, while
his tongue unfurls, flicks and sucks
on a bead of sweat at my elbow.
“Not very good,” I respond.

First Published in the 2005 Scars Publications Poetry Wall Calendar

THE SAINT OF UNCOUNTED NAMES

A desert again,
always a desert
and she the saint
of uncounted names,
her crying eases, no
smile appears for this
Madonna of the coyotes,
her orange-orbed eyes
shuttered against the
slowly retreating sun.
Once her tears watered
the desert sands, mixed
with the blood of a Christ
now long forgotten, trans-
substantiated into a spirit
we formed in our image,
no longer we in his.
The Blessed Mother
watches, holding hope,
holding space, holding
a serenity we cannot
fathom in our search
for divine justification.
She remembers, she mourns,
for what ought to be, and waits
for the windwalkers
to pull the blanket
of stars over her.

First published in Liquid Imagination, Issue 52, October 2022
http://liquidimagination.silverpen.org/

YOU THERE

We dance between wanting
to know what is out there,
and fearing that we are not
any longer unique, just one
more in an endless stream.

And then we have to wonder
if the others, such as they are,
wonder what is out there,
and fear that they are not
any longer unique, just one
more in an endless stream.

Has it always been this way,
have some already come
and gone in the flash
of a dying star, or grown
barren from neglect and greed?

Some want to know what
is out there, as out there
could become the only place
separating us from extinction.

SAY CHEESE

The meeting drags on. Time is frozen. The space between a smile and a grimace is the edge of a fine blade and the width of a canyon. And you maintain the smile hoping it is not seen as the rictus you feel. Politeness requires a smile, your heart requires a fast escape. So you stay and tweak all of the little facial muscles to maintain the semblance of a smile. You don’t watch the clock on the wall, for it is only a source of frustration. When you leave for home, your face feels almost sore around the lips.

ARIA

After years of embarrassment
I have finally come into the light.
It isn’t that my writing has improved,
although I surmise that would
be a narrow space to fill,
or that I can now draw things
that were once stick people
and animals and things.

What has improved, and
improved significantly
is my singing voice, once
a three note range, and one
not known to music,
but now I carry complex
tunes to near perfection.

If you ask how this
is possible, I will let
you in on a secret, it is
all in the audience,
and mine is now limited
to those stone deaf.

YUN MAN’S EVERY DAY IS A GOOD DAY

Pause and consider why so many questions
require you, you feel, to consult your watch,
to call up a calendar, to appoint time.
Time has no appointments, time is not
an arrow, though we strive always to aim it,
to send it flying in our desired direction.
Time is a point in space, surrounded by
all ten directions, going toward none of them.
Ask why this moment is not enough, why you need
the next though it does not exist.
What are you trying to escape by searching
for tomorrow, lingering in yesterday?
Yesterday no longer exists, so why
do you assume tomorrow does, and what
of this moment, which exists only now,
and what of the red leaf sitting
in mid-air awaiting your awed attention?

A reflection on Case 6 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)

NIGHT APPROACHES

The clouds this evening
are the deep gray that so long
to be black, but the retreated
sun just below the horizon
lingers long enough to deny them.

The space, shrinking, between
the clouds, is the gray of promise
that the night will soon deny,
and the birds who take over
the preserve, chant their vespers,
each in his or her own language,
uncommon tongues singing
their hymn punctured, punctuated
by the flapping of wings, as the night
encloses us in a cocoon that will
carry us into the coming morning.

BARDLESS

Laertes was supposed to visit me
in my dreams last night,
but Iago texted that they both
were suddenly otherwise engaged.

There is a strong possibility, of course
that this was just another instance
of Marlowe trying to wreak havoc
with my ever more precious sleep.

Tomorrow I will recall none of this
for the day ereases my dreams
much as the sun banishes the moon,
as one reality replaces still another.

And each time I prepare to welcome
Morpheus’ sweet song, wondering who he will
have in tow, it is Miles who reminds me
it is the space between dreams that matters.

SPACED OUT

The question you must answer,
and the one question I am certain
you cannot answer correctly is this:

Does space define us
or do we define space?

Hints, of course, abound but we,
myself included, fail or choose
not to see them or outright deny them.

We are all comfortable at home,
the adventurous among us declare
that wherever they are is home.

The sane ones among is say this is
nothing more than self-sophistry
or bullshit dressed in elegant cliche,

We want not only to limit space,
for then the cliche might have
more than a small kernel of truth,

but we need to declare it mine
so that it cannot be yours as well,
get your own damn space if you want.

Do you see the answer now, is it
clear to you once and for all, are
you willing to admit to the world

that space defines you
just as you define space

for it is on this evanescent foundation
on which your whole sense of self
resides and your ego dwells.