Read it again, please…

Today is Just a Page

The marks have no moral,
they know no stories,
nor me or mine,
no memories surfacing
in the quiet of the day’s ebb
haunting and mocking what can’t
be changed by dreams,
they are carried along
as the wave of the page turns slowly
to the next leaving anyone
reading to wonder
who writes this way,
not how but why;
and the way the words go
becomes a prophecy
because it is a path
leading to another nowhere
ready to mean something,
to be noticed
and maybe even remembered
enough to justify
a child’s plea to read it again,
and again, and again, and again.

Is there a way back…

Careening Through Life

Do trees cast off their leaves,
eager to be free of those parasites
drawing more than they offer;
do they cure and fall themselves
as birds leave nests never to return again;
or is there a romantic but exhausted grasp
which simply but reluctantly
fails in the cold of November?

Do the vivid colors of toys
cling to pathways cossetted in the
soft tissue of my memory;
a red fire truck of tin metal
and sharp edges that cut
my tender fingers as I played
the role of rescuer in the midst of
a horrible blaze; and what of the smell
of Mom’s cookies – unmistakable
and gone forever except in words
put together in strings
without sentences; is there a way back
to those sunny afternoons
with powdered sugar floating in the air
and me praying for a broken sample?

People died here…

Visiting History

It’s raining on the prairie,
but not in answer to prayer
as we huddle inside a dusty museum wondering
at the recreation of a settler’s life,
determined by weather and wind and rain
on the cut fields of earth;
if we shiver in a sudden summer storm and wonder
at the musky air it’s best to recall that people died
here – in this room probably, because they did
everything in this one dark room – and we can’t
wait for the storm to end and go on with our fun.

What marks the spot…

X

I can say X is red
or X instead;
because what’s real
is what we steal
from authors dead
but well said,
both/and and lost
found with a cost
that I will pay
every single day
until words mean
not what they seem
to Dumpty’s many
egg’s a plenty
toppled from walls
ruining school halls
angering teachers
pleasing preachers
who always search
for sin’s church
of truth’s facts
but object acts
baffling thoughtless
fearful, cautious
realists all
of Adam’s fall
who hear a word
and jump stirred
by a fear of living
and God unforgiving.

 

 

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.