CASSANDRA IN FLORIDA

She is large, and largely immobile
and occupies the bench by the road
that encircles the property like a noose.

She does this each day, a crust
or more of stale bread tucked away
in a pocket of her always floral

housedress that envelopes her
and the bench she occupies
as a monarch on her throne.

The ibis see her coming and gather
at her feet like acolytes awaiting
words from their sage and goddess.

She doesn’t disappoint them, telling
them a tidbit of the world, more often
who was taken sick overnight, who

died yesterday, always a shock
she says, then whispers conspiratorially,
but actually expected, of course,

for everyone here has numbered days,
and then tells them stories of her life,
real and imagined, the veil between

her truth and her fiction now diaphanous.
They grow impatient, but a good queen
reads her subjects and reaches

into the pocket pulling out the crusty
bread, smiles at her flock, says see, I bring
manna and together we cross the desert.

First Published in Chantarelle’s Notebook, March 2019
https://chantarellesnotebook.com/2019/03/22/

WEBBING

The giant spider in its black shroud
sits irritated in the center of its web
wishing it ever larger, demanding
that others enter, become enthralled
until it defines the parameters
of the universe the spider imagines.

The giant spider silently seethes
at the once gardener who, having
tasted the forbidden fruit,
has closed the screened door
as he reluctantly departed the garden
diminishing the web’s attraction.

The spider dreams of his new world,
knows his old one, the simple web
may be replaced, so he presses on
spinning all his resources in the hope
that others will come to accept
his crafted reality as their own.

TIME WHEN

There waa a time when
news wasn’t news, carried
by mouth, one person
to another a game of telephone
before that concept existed.

Newspapers promised us
the news, but in the time
it took to write and print it,
it was nearly news,
or at worst slightly olds.

Now the world is always
available instantly, but we
know or should, that half
of the time we see only bits
woven into a narrative
that bears no relation
to what actually happened.

HE/HIM

When he says he thinks
that it is rather queer,
you wonder if he uses queer
as a non-gendered pronoun,
and if so you think he
might just be right.

But what if he is a verbal
luddite, locked in an archaic
lexicon, unable to deal
with an ever more complex
social and sexual world
where what was is, and what
never was is, and who is
what is what is in flux.

THE FATES HAVE IT

It was a chance meeting they thought
although the Fates knew otherwise.
Theirs was a subtly planned world,
leave no fingerprints, always have
an alibi, better still never get caught.

It was a short meeting, a brief
conversation and an ill-meant
promise to stay in touch, numbers
exchanged and as soon forgotten.

He never imagined calling,
nor did she, but he did call
and they did meet again,
and the Fates smiled as
the couple celebrated
their golden anniversary,
both still certain it was all
a simple matter of chance.

MY LIFE AS A CAT

In my next life I think
I want to come back
as a cat, and not just any
cat, but a domestic
shorthaired spotted tabby.

I have it on good authority
that there is nothing finer
in the animal world
than being a domestic
shorthaired spotted tabby.

There will be much work
involved in the early days,
right after adoption, for
people tend very much
to be slow learners.

But with enough time,
the occasional well placed
claw, and earned affection
you can bend them
finally to your will.

At least that is what
my cat tells me in
moments of abject honesty.

CURFEW

We sat in the cramped kitchen
huddled around the stove
the open oven door spreading
a faint warmth that barely
slid through the winter chill.
The bare bulb in the ceiling
strained and flickered
fighting to hold as the generators
were shut down, and darkness
enveloped our small world.
The sky was lit by the flares
and the odor of exploding shells
seeped through the towel
sealed windows covered
in the tattered bedsheets
too thin to afford warmth.
Ibrahim had been gone two weeks
sneaking out of the city
to join his brothers in Gorazde
or Tuzla, or wherever it was
that they were struggling
to save what little was left.
We huddled under the small table
and dreamed of the taste
of fresh bread, or even pork.
In the morning he would run
among the craters in the streets
in search of the convoy
and the handouts, which we
would raven as the sun set
over our war torn hell.

First published in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. XXX, No. 1 & 2, 2006

MARVEL

We are, after all, merely human
so we are fraught with questions
and lacking answers, willing
to take things on faith on occasion.

Take God, for example, although
some say He is uniquely exemplary,
we want to know if God is a he,
a she, or to cover all our bases, a they.

And when we ask for a sign we
often look to the heavens as if
God only operate locally, even
Moses knew a bush would suffice.

Actually we hunger for signs now,
in a world gone mad, cursing free
will, wanting proof, when all we
need do is marvel at nature around us.

STRANGE BEAUTY

There is a strange beauty
in the slow loss of sight,
for there is a progressive
transition, a discovery
of much that went unheard,
unfelt, missing in the glare
of the need to see, to categorize
and organize, memories
neatly arranged in an array
of curated visual files.


But without sight what once
was cast aside as noise is
an intricate tapestry of sound
and undistracted, you begin
to see the individual threads
to see deeply into the art
and craft of the unknown weaver.


Without sight, you so often
store images in two dimensions
but now requiring touch,
everything is three dimensional
of necessity and the world is
infinitely more complex
and yes beautiful than you recalled.


And the darkness of night, which
marked a border that dared not
be fully crossed grows meaningless
and hours once lost may again
now demand to be lived.

First published in Bard and Prose, June 2022
https://bardandprose.com/category/poetry/

EMERGENT

When I least expect it, one
may unfurl wings and lift
into a clouded sky searching
for the hidden sun, or

it may wander off, a child
momentarily free of parents
off to discover the real world, or

it may retreat back into
the pen, unwilling to be seen,
objecting to its misuse, or

it may sit in front of the TV
and watch soap operas
and game shows, not caring
what is on the screen, just
escaping from the damned page, or

it may sit still, be tucked away
and hope one day to be accepted
for all the world to see.