Where have all the angels gone…

Angels No More

Once upon a time there were angels
hovering patiently, over the world
watching carefully all that mattered
knowing things that went unsaid,
and all the things we thought unseen,
and when life turned sour, as it does,
somehow they lifted away the pain
and we thought it just evaporated
as if it never was, and it wasn’t;
they bore the burden alone, these angels,
gladly and casually but they shed
tears we will never understand,
or try to, as we sleep calmly, tucked
into our own beds, dreaming of
angels that are no more.

No electricity, no chicken…

No Electricity

From underneath a rusted minivan
with a bumper sticker announcing
an honor roll student who’s thirty
by now, a mottled cat emerges,
walking purposefully and haltingly
the way cats do, across the potted
asphalt parking lot with faded
yellow stripes, as overhead the sun
is blinding but hiding behind
a mirroring blanket and a bald man
emerges from the restaurant,
with his tattooed arms exposed
explaining they’ve no electricity
for six hours, so, come back then
if you want chicken cause they’re
gonna have to cook all of it since
it’ll spoil and the cat is listening
to him like it understands every
word, then looks my way to see
if I understand the news too.

All history, no life…

Only a Past

The man begging at the monument’s facade
has no future to imagine but only a past,
as pretenders to writing fear the blank page
praying for a prompt of creative forecast,
as history is inevitable providence to the faithless
afraid of the unknown of our choices
and Pollyannaish wishes cloud the gray matter
silencing all of doubt’s voices;
when will those who need to, learn to learn
and let those who cry, cry
when will old dogs find new tricks to love
until the day they must die.

The rest is up to him…

A Notebook

In 1922 John wrote on the first page
of a one hundred page notebook
that his boy had been born that morning;
he was fine with ten toes and fingers,
a good, strong cry easily silenced by feeding,
and a shock of jet black, fine hair atop,
and mother was well as well; each year
on the February day he jotted such
observations – brief, some would call terse,
taking just a few lines of the entire page;
walking now and into trouble often,
always asking questions – unanswerable,
outgrew pants before ruining them,
doing well in school, likes math the best;
all through the hardest of human days
for those who care for their own,
but no words about such things,
and never an explicit word of love,
just the obvious things of appetite
(insatiable and costly), growth (average),
friends (just a few), baseball (likes),
school (better than most, he supposes);
then the army when everyone did the same,
letters home and a photo in uniform
from the Atlantic, then France
and so many were lost but he was fine
and coming home; back to school, a girl,
he’d proposed, they were married
and the notebook stopped just
a quarter way through;
the rest was up to him, obviously.

Can I go to the bathroom now…

Life’s a Stage

If life is a stage, then I am sitting in the audience
toward the back on the left side, wondering
when the intermission will begin and if
there will be enough time to go to the bathroom,
and maybe get something to eat at the concessions stand but the play
just keeps going and going without stop
and here I am, fidgeting and squirming
and praying for the end until I remember
this is life and I want to see what happens next.

Toledo Zoo was heaven…

Bubbles and Cupid and Toledo

Bubbles and Cupid drew us to Toledo,
Ohio – Toledo…, Ohio… for vacations – In
Toledo? people there asked us
as if no one, ever, vacationed in Toledo,
Ohio, and in most places I guess this is a
normal way to think, but this was
our Disneyland, our holiday, and
Bubbles and Cupid the main attraction;
these were grand days with grand hippos
bathing and swimming casually in the world’s
(once) only filtered hippoquarium where
we came nose to nose with the hippos
for hours and hours of loyal visits,
there from open to close, acquiring
a familiarity with these pachyderms
and the scents of the Zoo, posing for
family photos for Christmas cards,
buying anything and everything imprinted
with a hippo; it was innocent enough –
our love affair with hippos came from a son
who, for some inexplicable reason which
refused explanation (inexplicable, remember),
as such reasons should; we loved, no…, obsessed,
over all kinds of animals and especially
hippos – thick skinned, non-ruminating
leviathans , secreting that blood-like goo
under duress like Jesus in Gethsemane,
the most dangerous beast of Africa,
deceptively fast from here to there,
swimming laps with hind quarters
suspended as they floated like ballerinas,
breached like whales, and wallowed lazily
in the shallows, submerged for minutes
on end before surfacing with a burst,
with twisting ears and flaring nostrils
in front of wide eyes dark with age
but never fear, this couple we loved
and could tell apart but not by
obvious reasons – ours was a defining
devotion uncrowded by other distractions
and recognized by a befriending
zookeeper who once took
us inside the shelter and lifted our
children up, leaning over a high, sturdy
barrier, over the gaping mouth of Bubbles
so they could toss a treat of a whole,
unpeeled banana and then an apple
down her throat with her ivory tusks
just there, inches away, and after that,
well, there was little more to do
than revel, for who can say they’ve hand-fed
a hippo and lived to tell about it; such were
our exploits, such are our memories.