Monthly Archives: June 2010

Act of God

It came
Like the singing of a
Silver bullet
At five-to-eight
A hiss then darkness
And the earth
Bucked
A wide-eyed child
At the astonished window
And the looming form
Splayed dumbstruck
On the shattered earth

Twelve hours we kept vigil
For that broken form
Then stood in silent witness
As the first responders finally arrived
Five men and a woman
Bowed low to their triage
Neon deaf and unsmiling
The kick and bark of teeth well-meshed
A clamoring of diesel
Above the weeping
And swiftly there was nothing left

Nothing to mark the place
Where last week we were young
Longing, laboring
Trusting in immortality
Yet overshadowed
By its convention
Now suddenly the ground
Is plowed afresh
And ripe to possibility
Harrowed to infinity
By this most audacious
Act of God.

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Bully

The city bus wheezes asthmatically
Between cars and lorries littering the street
Belching and inhaling fresh humanity
At every lurching stop

Pressed into a corner seat
Behind the central stairs
Too late I see him leering as he
Swoops intently on the space that pens me in

I’m gonna break your effing neck
He promises. I’m gonna follow you
When you get off this bus and
I’m gonna effing smash your face in

Staring through my shoes I recognize
The voice of my tormentor
The one who just the other day kicked me to the ground
In plain view of a helpless crowd as I waited for this bus

Something inside of me silently dies
I know now I will never leave this seat
But waking and sleeping I will ride on with this demon at my side forever
Replete he gives a wicked flash of nicotene and is gone

There is no victory of nonviolence this day
No glorious reconciliation no conversion of an enemy
Just an effing effing bully and a
Terrified eleven-year-old who will never ride this bus again.

Spelling Bee

(a cascade poem)

The children are sweating
Asking nervous questions of clarification
Because they have never heard these words before

Under such bright lights
It is no wonder that
The children are sweating

Like a jaded bomb squad
Circling each treacherous noun and verb
Asking nervous questions of clarification

I wonder what monster created this sport
That makes good kids cry
Because they have never heard these words before

Heedless

Somewhere down the hall
Baleful and unstinting
A clock radio is wailing
Its tuneless ostinato
Pleading for response

Jolted upright
I am outraged and amazed
That the intended recipient
Of this warning
Refuses to pay it heed.

Then abruptly
Almost too much so
Order is restored
And uneasy silence
Descends once more.

In the sleepless dark
I ask myself how often
Friends have been alarmed
By the sounds of trouble
That I stubbornly ignore.

Leaking

I left you at the front door
Hunching through the fray
Your forward motion blurring and then smoothing
The glistening at the corners of your eyes.

Driving away I thought again
Of the basement plumbing I had so inexpertly performed this weekend
The sharp-pointed tapping valve sitting not quite true upon its copper pipe
And the slow slow drip that echoed through the night

It is perhaps the genius of our lives
That we live by pressing forward through the crowd
Yet mark our progress most profoundly not in good intentions
But in the injuries of imperfection and in tears not quite contained.

Hanging it up

After twenty years
Of flying flashing
Lifting leaping
Throwing thwarting
And always coming out
Just on top
He carefully folded
His scarlet cape
Laid it together with his
Tights and mask
And gave them
In a faded cardboard box
To the costume department
Of a local theater
Then settled to
A brave new life
Selling baseball cards
In an unassuming store
Just opposite the congregational church
On main street.
It had finally occurred to him
That every time he saved the world
It only encouraged them.

A grain of truth

There is nothing more dangerous
Than a grain of truth

I have an acquaintance I dare not call a friend
Who having found a crack in my defenses
Will ease it wide by deft manipulation of a doubt
Then nails upon my inner doors a summons

I know this document by heart
It is a wanted poster detailing
Heinous crimes of personality
That in reality describe her more than me.

And yet with each assault however fanciful
I believe her long enough
To fall again into her arms.
And then I let her comfort me.

Later I feel dirty, enraged
I stand a long time in the shower
Making resolutions in the rising steam
I know I will not keep.

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