What it’s like to die in exile…

– Like Ovid

Like Ovid I will die in exile
and no one will know why,
obvious rumors will fly
getting his due, they’ll smile
in assured ways their lie
comforting thoughts supply
and enjoy my sour cry
from my joyless isle
knowing justice will supply
but I won’t know why
emperors once prized
but were just as spry
in sending me here to die.

What I feared about the year 2000…

In the Year Two-Thousand

When I grow up I will be old,
but little else will be different,
I remember dreaming at night,
like running will still be easy
but maybe I won’t want to
run as much as I do now,
I don’t remember thinking
about choices or school,
having more or less money,
hair loss, getting fat, or sex;
and everyone would still be
alive but they wouldn’t and
I didn’t realize it back then,
they’d be sunny summer days
with baseball games and
watermelon but no mosquitoes
and bees would stay near the
flowers and leave me alone
while I ate hot dogs and
salty potato chips, and drink
fruit punch like it was beer,
and far off into the future
it might be scary to be me
like the year two thousand
when I’d be forty years old
if I ever lived that long.

What it’s like to fill a hole…

Into the Abyss

Once upon a time they were called a road crew
but I have no idea what they’re called these days,
six men, leaning on shovels looking into their hole,
while another’s at work therein pounding or digging
and it is hard to tell who’s in charge in this circle
or maybe they’re all in charge or need to be today
while that one poor man does whatever it is he does
down in that hole which will soon be filled again.

Is your name written in the book of life…

– Book of Life –

This is a room in which all of life fits,
and therein are many books and just one;
you see soaring arches of stone shaped and
draped in heavy, old wood, dark with age
from the Garden of Eden but yet untouched,
with all of everything bound and shelved,
rows and rows in some divine order
not worth arguing over, only to enjoy,
with spaces for reading, seats at tables,
paper but only pencils for taking notes as
shafts of light cross every view and dust dances
in the show of rhythmed, unhurried air,
in perfect quiet with only small sounds heard,
like a page turning with tender respect,
sighs of satisfaction or stifled laughs
followed by childlike pleas that it be read again,
but in the shadowy recess of a cold corner,
before a skewed chair left untidy
sits an open tome, heavy and solemn,
resting readerless with tear-stained pages,
and it’s title is the Book of Life.

I love the blank page…

It happens quite often, and I hope it never stops,
that pang of jealously that I want to feel
when I’m reading someone else’s work,
someone else’s words,
someone else’s words that I didn’t write,
and I catch myself wondering if I could,
if I could do something like that, somehow,
because I love the way these words go
and I need that on my page – the page I write;

there’s a theory, a bad theory that lies,
that it’s something that I just need to find,
or let out, or is inside me somewhere,
and no jealously is needed, no jealousy is
called for, because this is no competition
and we are all players in a bigger story
where all words are borrowed, all pages already
filled, and creativity is the lie;

but when I turn the page there’s nothing there,
until a small child bends to pluck a dandelion,
building a priceless bouquet, and
the dog keeps chasing the squirrel but never catches it,
and you start calling your children’s names into empty rooms,
sometimes at night when you sleep less than you should but
not for lack of trying, and try to remember when you
finished the things you started – like life,
and the page fills up, and then another, and another
where there was nothing there moments ago, no thoughts,
no stories, no words, and you wish to remember
the jealously that made you love the page.

Frank has a story…

Everybody Needs a Story

Frank said that the young boy
that he used as a guide was too easily distracted
and got bored quickly, leaving the sightless Frank
all alone, stranded in shops or sitting in the park,
and that bothered him;
but he was a tough guy, it seems, with a story, and
as any grandfather would say, interesting people
always have a story and that explains so much;

Frank lost an eye in an accident when
he was just a child, and then he lost the use of the other
in a boxing match as a teenager,
and I can’t imagine what he was doing
in a boxing match with one eye, but he could, and did,
and that’s Frank, I guess;

he heard that somewhere in Europe
dogs were being trained as guides for WW I veterans
blinded by mustard gas, so
Frank sent word that he’d really love
one of those dogs, and they sent him Buddy
who was the first one of its kind in this country,
all because Frank knew to ask, and
Buddy became so famous that when he died
newspapers ran an obituary for him
because even Frank’s Buddy had a good story,
and I decided I’d better get working on mine.

It’s normal not to be normal…

Maladaptive Adaptive

We don’t understand normal anymore,
don’t understand what’s happened, before
we’ve became the new black, the new average,
and maladaptive became all one could salvage.

Making-do and not expecting too much,
a reasonable way to cope – a sacred crutch;
lest any be forced to act out of compulsion,
a violation of will leading to convulsion.

The mushroom cloud of the family,
looms large on the horizon of the latchkey;
and any invocation of is dripping with guilt,
a poor rendering of the intricate human quilt.

This was not always our social affinity,
but an industrial product of economic viability;
accommodative adaptivity in a pragmatic vein,
we collect round the character campaign.

From Ozzie and Harriet, Ward and June,
to the village it takes to raise this tune;
we’re better off not asking too much of any
for disappointment weighs upon all heavy.

What’s that stuff called…

Dew

Unnoticed she’s carried, innocently drawn
settling in deep, preceding the dawn,
sleepy and sallow against a facade
damply pausing as first lights applaud,
teased without malice, heartless yet alive
sensing and waiting, careless to survive,
still she dawdles, no promise of morrow
fading each day but without sorrow;
when will he learn, when will he know
she’s come and gone and he’s no beau.

It isn’t always what it is…

It Is What It Is

Starting a new religion usually takes effort,
not necessarily consistency, proof or fact,
just data and anecdotes, which means
listening and creating at the same time;
it’s an interpretive exercise most ignore
because of the difficulty of thinking anew,
and we’re really driven by insecurity and
the need for followers, but not this one;
it won’t matter if a single soul converts,
nothing will change if everyone changes,
because whatever happens will happen
in the new religion of it is what it is.

When Lincoln wasn’t famous…

Lincoln as a Boy

They say that for a famous man
it is unusual to know so little about his youth,
what it was like in Hodgenville,
when did he grow so tall and gangly
and did other children mock him and
why he was so fond of the axe,
and what of the rusticness of his birth
in a log cabin, or the sadness of his heart
when his mother died when he
was just nine years old,
and what he learned in just one year
of schooling that made him think
he could just show up one day
in New Salem and make it his land;
I tell my children they aren’t this lucky
because we wrote down everything
they did and said and photographed
their first and every step after that
with such duty that they can’t
escape their past
so they shouldn’t even try.