ACT IV

He knew he should not have brought the gun. He hated guns,
they served no purpose in his world of words. He wanted to
look at it, to stare at it, really. He thought that if he did so
he might be better able to write about the senselessness
of the world in which he lived, a world he so very much wanted to
change. He had the gun. He knew what he had to do. He
shot a hole in the forehead of the picture of Anton Chekhov
that hung on the wall over his desk.

ONCE

There was a time not all that long ago,
he reminds me, when the event of an eclipse
was a certain sign the world was ending.
Prayers were offered in profusion, and
the event proceeded and passed, so faith
in prayer was restored, if not in astronomy.
Today eclipses are viewed as just other
celestial events, like meteor showers
and solar flares, something to see,
something to experience, but always
with the knowledge that tomorrow
will always be right around the corner.
But the eclipse of our freedoms
is something we have never seen,
and many now believe the world
is ending, but we should, he says,
realize that like the slow passage
of the earth across the face of the moon,
we will emerge into the light again
in due time, our prayers having been answered.

RE-ENTRY ALLOWED

He sits on the cushion
staring through hooded eyes
at the wall in front of him.
He expects exactly nothing to happen,
expects there to be no sound
within his mind, only what
happens without, expects that time
will cease for him, or
will at least cease to matter.
He is not disappointed.
The bell rings, he arises,
and walks back into the world
where everything happens,
there is only sound, and
he stares at his watch knowing
time has moved on in ways
he can never hope to fully grasp.

FIFTY-EIGHT MINUTES, MORE OR LESS

In a bit less
than an hour
a new exhibit
will open
empty space will
be occupied
with moving
bodies of artist
and viewer,
universes will form
a thousand children
will be born
an old man in
a distant city
will slip away
a contented look
pressed into
his face
world leaders
will ask why
and have
no answers,
but all of that
is not now,
but in a bit
less than
an hour.

A DIFFERENT WORLD

In a different world,
I would write you stories, poems,
that would bring a tear to your eye,
that would make you laugh even when
your mood would deny joy,
that would bring freedom to some
and loosen the shackles on many,
that would reflect peace,
that would lighten your burden,
that would heal, if only small wounds,
that would recall a better world
and enable its rebirth.
In a different world
I would write you stories,
but we live in this world
and these are the words I have.

HOPE ETERNAL

First day of the new year
and there seems an almost
palpable malaise that things
are not suddenly different,
as though the turning of a page
on the calendar might somehow
set us and world events
on a radically different course:
the fool would become wise,
the sage would smile knowingly
and all that to which
we have grown so accustomed
would morph or disappear.
But there is a full moon tonight,
so perhaps tomorrow
will be the day we all
eagerly anticipated today,
or, just perhaps, a black cat
will lead us beneath the ladder
and down the thirteen steps
to the ever-present home
of misbegotten expectations.