THE WRITER STUMBLES

Each year
in Pamplona
the bulls begin
their slow descent
down the narrow streets
gaining speed
nostrils flaring
muscle and sinews taut
they forge ahead
a white wave
preceding them
in their mad dash
and each year
there is one,
some years two
who, by slip of foot
or lapse of judgment
meet the horns
of the lead bull
who in disgust
snorts
“this one
is no
Hemingway.”

First published in Defenestration ,Vol XVI Issue 2 August 2019

PLAYERS

Last night the actors
trod the boards
carrying us on their backs.
This wasn’t Pittsburgh
but we believed it so.
We’ve never been to the Hill
but we walked its blighted streets.
In the mirror we are white,
but not last evening.
He is five years dead
but last night
August Wilson escorted us
to a place
we had never imagined,
and we were all
too glad to visit.

TROTSKY

He slipped the knife quickly
between two ribs as he
was carefully trained,
withdrew it and placed it
inside the raincoat, a bit odd
in the bright sun of Mexico City.

He disappeared into the streets
and later toiled in an endless
series of five year plans,
sharing the small apartment
sharing bread and the lines
always the lines and waiting.

Now in Moscow he remembered
the sidewalk cafes, carefully
marking the older man
in his daily travels, a book
tucked perpetually under his arm.

They talked one afternoon
for hours, even while the doors
were closed, shutters drawn
for siesta, he the acolyte,
the old one the prophet
cast out of his land, a pariah.

Walking across the park
winter grasping his throat
he turned to the men strolling
along behind him and wished them
rotting bread and weak tea.

First published in Eureka Literary Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1997)

THE GROVE

She walks slowly, the streets
she once knew well, so much changed
by time and memory released into the fog.
It is hard going back when back
is no longer there, where the store you owned,
a place where you spent countless hours
is now a sandwich shop, and
so many others gone altogether
for modern brick, concrete and glass.
Still there is a T-shirt which she
will wear as a badge of what was,
a play she will never forget, as I
remember the park in Salt Lake City
were mescaline and blotter acid
made the maples float above the ground
and we sat in the summer rain
and imagined golden butterflies
but that too is gone as are all
of the coconuts that once filled this grove.

WINTER, AGAIN

The snow began falling this morning
the dry, almost greasy snow that defies
the plows running up and down the streets,
too shallow for the salters to begin.
Cars slide to a stop, or nearly so,
at the intersection, and you know
it is merely a matter of time before two
will simultaneously, and there will be
a loud crunch of metal, gesticulating of hands,
He would stay and watch, as he does
auto racing, but the temperature
has breached single digits, the wind
has taken up winter’s challenge, and
he knows only a fool would
venture or stay out in this.

GOING

Mingus
            twisting 
roiling
                blood of streets
       child’s cry
                        laughter of old men
            s
             w
               o     
                  o
                      p
                          i
                             n
                                    g
            perched
on a spit valve

Kerouac
                        flying
            rainbowed
    rolling slowly
            e  l  e  c  t  r  i  c
                  imbibing Bukowski
       manchild
                           locked
                                                onto a page.

RIVERSIDE

The great bronze kings
of the Chosun Dynasty
look down from Mount Namsan
over the city, valleys
of small homes, neatly
tiled roofs over
ramshackle walls,
with small gardens
clustered atop
amid clothes drying racks
and cars careening
along narrow streets.
The old woman
wraps the pink towel
around on her scalp
like some garish bun
and lifts the packages
carefully bound
balanced on her head
and trudges slowly down
the cobbled street
to Namdaemun market.
In It’aewon, the man
bent, creaking, lifts
the handle of the old cart
and begins a slow shuffle
up the alley straining
against time and gravity.
They look down from
the mountain at the
great South Gate
and their hanboks
weigh heavier
with the fall of night
while the Han
flows on uncaring.