PRAVDA

If I was in Russia I
would have no problem
finding a title for this poem
for it would be The Last.

I would write that I mourn
the children, men, and women
sacrificed to assuage his
warped need for domination.

I would write that I detest
his disregard of truth,
supplanting it with his lies
to justify his megalomania.

I would write that I stand
with the people of Ukraine
and for that I would pay with
my words, and perhaps my life.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY

I am just wondering
what you would say
if you were called
to testify about all
that you had seen,
all that had disgusted you,
all that you condemned
but did and said
nothing while it occurred.
What would you say
if you had no choice
but truth, no shading,
no mincing of words,
just the harsh light
and you in a chair
in an empty room,
a disembodied voice
asking endless questions?
It is best that you
remain silent, say
nothing at all,
for we have already
judged you, and you
know your own guilt.

First appeared in Literary Cocktail Magazine, Fall Issue 2022, Volume I Issue II
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VEgeWfNp5SFGSm8nW8QegM1WuNUa_s99/view

EGGMAN

When I was a child . . .
God, how many times have you
heard something prefaced by those
ever frightening words, not
scary themselves but what
painful story they promised.

When I was a child we had
a milkman who brought
the glass bottles twice a week,
took the empties and envelope
with his payment from the
shelf built in the wall
just for deliveries.

We also had an egg man
who’d leave a dozen eggs
in a little metal basket
on the same shelf. He
had a great mustache,
almost walrus-like, and he
may have been an eggman
but he was defnitely not a walrus,
goo goo gajoob.

RETURN

He arrived today
although none saw him coming.
He had been here before,
been quickly ignored,
despite his pleas and prayers,
they twisted his words
to suit their venal desires,
his message forever lost in translation.
They were not ready,
and in their hate fueled world,
they might never be.

NO BOIL

Not so much watched
as casually gazed at, and
not a pot but a smartphone,
which had best not boil.

No ring, not this day
lost in what, an absent
mind, thoughts of self,
not unexpected but wanted.

Distance real becomes
distance virtual, empty
later explained, words
of apology, forgiveness

but a lingering scar that
will recede, reappear
that laughter may cover
but never fully erase.

WE WANT, AGAIN

We want to cry out,
but we have no words.

We want to scream
but all we give is silence.

We want to curse the invader
but cannot be heard
over the tanks, bombs
and rockets.

We want to mourn
but there are so many
innocents, where
do we begin?

We want to act,
but we are incapable
and can offer
only silent prayer.

SOPHIE

She maintained an aura of what she
imagined was elegance, a carefully
constructed persona carried out
in the most careful details.

Her furniture had slipcovers, lest
someone spill and mar the fabric,
a tea cart always at the ready
although I never saw her serve tea.

She spoke with carefully chosen
words, certainly not the vernacular
of the city, perhaps of London
where she had been born.

Those she met would never guess
that this was the same woman, who
on the death of her husband, wielded
a baseball bat in the liquor store
she operated in the heart of downtown,
one she had used on one occasion
once enough that the word got out.

DUSK

There is nothing like, no
words to adequately describe,
that moment when a cloud-
hazed sun lingers wishfully
just above the horizon, grasping
the sky with brilliant talons
of light, fearing becoming
lost in a darkness that will,
on this night of the new moon,
engulf us all in its inky shroud.

We know, or pray, the sun
will return in hours, just
as the sun knows its work
is never done so long as it
has light to give, hoping
that final collapse is eons away.

As it finally settles beyond
sight, we smile, retreat
to the table and consume
our dinner and wine, our
daily companion forgotten
until its dawning return.

LOOKING FOR WORDS

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps so, but many pictures don’t travel in verbose company, and there are pictures worth far, far less, although some will search until the magic thousand are found. In Japan a story can be told in seventeen syllables, a picture painted with a single brushstroke. In the zendo the whole of dharma can be heard in the silence if you stop and listen.

A VISION

He loved the simple irony of it all. His vision was failing in one eye, likely might in the other, from macular degeneration. There was a hole in his vision thanks to his macula and geographic atrophy. And being a man of words he knew the best way to describe that spot, that hole, was to say his vision was maculate. It was just the most immaculate description he could imagine.