Step right up, don’t hang back,
come and watch the fool perform for you.
You know me, bedecked in motley emotions
worn like so many colorful rags,
a suit of too many shades and hues,
all displayed for your entertainment.
See if you can find ten shades of anger
as I prance around in front of you.
Count the five flavors of tears
that start and stop like a passing storm.
Laugh at me as I pirouette, a dervish
who loved blindly long after
the love of my patron had died.
See me in my fool’s cap, the bells
of rage and guilt dangling from its points.
If that isn’t enough to bring out a laugh,
watch as I rip out my heart
and lay it at your feet, still beating
to the rhythm of the song
to which she grew deaf so long ago.
Rain your scorn on me as I stumble
across the stage, for though they ring hollow,
it is them that I most crave, a redemption
that no monarch could hope to offer.
Step right up, don’t hang back,
come and watch the fool perform for you
and do not pause to think
that you could as easily be here,
on this stage, and I out there marveling
at you, wondering what you did
to ever deserve such a fate.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)
It is difficult explaining to a child,
even one who has reached the age of 40,
that you once knew all there was to know.
They are certain they know more than you,
and they know all there is to know
so, a fortiori, you could not know
all that there is to know, period.
They will say this with a certain smugness
born, they believe, of the knowledge
that they know quite everything.
But there is still a perverse pleasure
in watching their smugness collapse
like a house of cards in a storm,
when you remind them that there was
so much less to know when you
knew everything, and so it will be
for their children when the reckoning comes.
It washed up on the beach this morning,
stopped right at my feet, as I
stared down at it, examining it carefully.
It message was clear at first, a tale
too hard to swallow, of creatures
tossed about by a storm that no one
saw, from an age in which no one
now alive could have experienced.
The message described a magic land
of which it gave only had a brief glimpse,
a land that was constantly in flux
and perpetually out of reach.
I closed my eyes and tried to imagine
such a marvelous place, and as I did
it receded back into the ocean
from which it emerged, merged
with all of the others, and I
was left with only this dream of it.
The Royal Poinciana is in full bloom,
its brilliant flame has led the sun
to take jealous refuge in the clouds
but we know not to be complacent.
Mother nature it is said, and we
are loathe to argue, can be at times
the most fickle of bitches and we
suspect that it will not be long
before she brings forth still another
tropical storm, a tantrum in which
the jacaranda’s beauty must cede
to her repressed envy, scattered
at our feet, a warning, perhaps,
but nonetheless a moment of beauty
that even nature cannot deny us.
We crossed the Hudson this afternoon
on a Dutch named bridge
in a driving rain so strong
you could hear little over the beat
of the wipers throwing sheets of water.
You wondered why the superstructure
was only on the Eastern end.
I wondered why they had to have
a Dutch name no one can translate.
The river’s surprisingly wide here
and you can’t even see the dead fish
or the waste from the plants up river,
its just a silver sheet of water
and the slashing of the wipers
and that name no one can translate.
First appeared in Calliope 21:1, 1997
We are obligated to carry
memories, and as we
get older the burden grows
ever heavier, we bend
under its weight, knowing
we dare not lose even one
for once castoff, the weight
is carried off like the smallest
feather on a storming wind.
Soon enough it is we
who will become the burden
that others must carry
and we hope they will
willingly shoulder the load
lest we become the excised
dust of forgotten stone
grown over with weeds.
I arrive home
to the wreckage
of the tornado
that is a three-year-old.
the pieces scattered about
we both think
of how soon
the next storm
and how we
will welcome its coming.
The night was ripped
by the lightning,
the thunder piercing
our dreams, awakening us
to the shadow’s play
on the skylight shades.
As I slip back into sleep
the gods turn their backs
and continue to argue
well into morning.
From twenty stories up
the fully fogged sky,
a translucent gray curtain
hung from an angry black ceiling.
and the streets below fade
into misty oblivion.
Even the approaching dusk
sits back in wonder.
She wondered what it would be like
to be an island, set off somewhere
in a vast ocean, tropical preferably
where the only sounds were
the ebb and flow of the waves,
the thunder of the occasional storm
and the whisper of leaves tossed
by the omnipresent sea breezes.
she liked isolation, the silence
of repetitive sounds, free of the shackles
the city imposed on all within.
She imagined she might never tire
of the freedom and island enjoyed,
patiently waiting for the visitor
who might not ever wash up
on her beaches, she indifferent
but willing to accept what the gods
might choose to offer or deny her.