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)
It wasn’t exactly what you wanted, but
you probably wouldn’t have been all that upset.
It was all about you, but not for you, that
comes later, and we know you’ll be pleased.
This one was for some of us who needed this
to be able to keep going, to keep from looking
only back, into the darkness that is our shadow.
He said it was a celebration, and it was that,
and we put on our best faces, hid our tears
as best we could, and as we stood in the cold air
in the cemetery, we only wished it over,
and when the sun appeared suddenly, we knew
you wished that as well, but in your case,
it was more likely that you wanted us working
on the party we will soon throw for you
and that one, too will be for us, but
among the things we miss you for,
was your willingness, you desire to share.
I want the sky to be that certain crimson
tinged with burnt sienna and cinnabar,
but today winter is holding sway
and the sun sneaks off behind
the gray wall from which it only peeked,
and left the day one of grayscale
where intensity replaced beauty
and even the cardinal opted to stay
high in the spruce, offering
only an occasional glint of red.
We come to expect this, it is a season
of colorlessness, and the only question
is whether we can hold out
until spring returns the full pallette
and nature takes up brush again.
The small house fly has
only once in life.
In the Norway Spruce
pine cones threaten to descend.
Squirrels sit waiting.
In the sunlit park
the small dog watches the man
go fetch the thrown ball
Maple leaves emerge
almost certain that winter
is now history
A rain of petals
cherry snow covers the ground
we await the fruit.
The moon has gone past full
and as waning as I write,
it’s slow retreat hopefully taking with it
the burden of winter, that we now
must measure in feet, the inches
having been heaved up, one upon another.
Spring will come soon
for a taste of it, for spring
is an inveterate tease, preferring
to appear only long enough
to let the melting snows
floor around, and to occasionally
into our homes, so that we,
maps and markets in hand,
pause to dream of the summer
which we now doubt will ever appear.
The trees, bearing up strongly
against the still falling snow
remember leaves, though the memory
has run deep into the sap and slowed.
Beneath the frosted bed
the bulbs imagine summer,
try to picture their blooms,
but quickly returned to frozen stasis.
The cat thinks of venturing
into our yard, sinks its paws
into the growing snowbank, decides
the rug by the fireplace is adventure enough.
We turn up our collars, stand
firm against the wind driven snow,
remember summer, and curse the gods
of weather for taking it from us.
The finches sweep
from bush to feeder
in a gentle
appear head high
with a pride reserved
for those who fly.
The chain link fence
is for them no barrier
but a honeycomb
of perches, full
on a warm February
afternoon, their song
threatening to silence
the heart of winter.
As I stare out the window and watch
the snow slowly build on the limbs
of the now barren sugar maple, painting
it with a whiteness that bears heavily
giving the smaller branches a better
view of the ground in which their
fruit of the summer lies buried.
I am forced to wonder if the maple
continues to watch me, if its vision
is clouded by the snowy blanket
in which it wraps itself this day,
and if it does, what must it think
of someone so sedentary when it,
bearing its winter burden can still
dance gently in the morning wind.
the dangling green orbs
hang beneath the verdant leaves
dreaming of summer.
sweat rolls down my back
the noon sun stares angrily
evening sky darkens
is it the approach of night
or simple summer rain?
The radio is suddenly blaring
and the clock of the stove says
seven o’clock but the window retorts
it is winter when there is no time.
You pull up your collar
as you prepare to leave.
At the store, pick up
a baguette, it will go well
with a pork tenderloin
with a sauce of Portabello mushrooms
and haricots, if you can find them
or green beans, if not.
The old dog stares at the door
debating the frigid tongue of the wind
or a burdened bladder.
She barely sets paw on the lawn,
squats and returns to her mat
in the front foyer.
Shake the snow from your collar
and leave your boots on the mat
while I warm the coffee left
from this morning and then
we will unpack the groceries.
First published in Potato Eyes Vol. 14, 1997