after blotting out the last star
from the dark sky
she cast aside her paint brush
and walked away
without glancing back
knowing full well
the best memories of her life
have been safely stored
in her poetry her painting her sculpture
as well as the loving hearts of her family and friends
we love you.
we know as Sea Cookies,
Snapper Biscuits, and Pansy Shells.
You exist in secret,
dressed in Picasso's
pallet of colors.
calcium carbonate plates
in radial patterns
of green and blue,
violet and purple.
You would be
to such deep regions.
Instead, you scuttle
your beauty a secret
from happy children
with pails and shovels
who find your spines
by the sun
and call to their
Went out & scissored a lily, brought her inside
to study her fuzzy brown anthers loaded
with pollen, her needle-thin pistil & filaments
down to her ovary. Noted her sepals
were dotted with droplets; her waxy gold petals
were stippled with pigment, the comeliest rust spots,
like freckles on the face of a tomboy agog
in a tree house at twilight. Saw how, twice dappled
with drizzle & beauty marks, she tilted a bit in her vase
toward my pencil as if she could lift it to write
& tell me the checkered tall story of all things in bloom.
Saw two of her petals were nibbled—by a rabbit? a fawn?
Wrote how she told me she loathed the incessant devouring
mouths which would strip her & call her a woman.
Like binary stars
We circle around ourselves
Yet caught up in our energy fields
Once attracted to one another's atmospheres
Now only caught in a grueling orbit
Day after day
Night after night
Passing each other
Sun rises, sun sets
Moon rises, moon sets
We are caught
Trapped in a perverted joke of a life
A path forever destined
No free will
I around you
You around me
An eternity of entrapment
And I will plunge
Where gravity takes me
Another non-choice for me
I'll blow where the atmosphere sends me
Anywhere but here forever
Yet, I influence you
To influence me
To influence you
Turning around to greet me
I think I see a glimmer
In your eye
The familiarity is, at least, warming
A constant cycle of stability
A routine to count on
I think I'll try to remember
To wave next year
When we pass in the night
I hope I'll be able to see you
Through all this atmospheric dust
Our predicted lives tend to stir up
every spring Saturday
afternoon until three
or until you grew too tired.
I won the set. You cheerfully
paid your eight dollars owed.
In July, we buried you.
I kept the eight dollars alone
in a box in my room
until I was forty-two and
thinking of you, I purchased your
Every morning I sip warm
coffee in your presence.
(Previously published in 2013 in
the Poets Roundtable of Arkansas
Eightieth Anniversary Anthology)
A double-stop while turning
the rosewood E peg sends the train
whistle into the distance.
Your love fades with it, leaving
you behind. This is not your time.
A long moan unscrolls
from lower registers of sorrow,
echoes through the garden of stones
where trees hold shadows
in their empty arms.
Increase the metronomic tempo
so your up-bow rends the air
with each stroke, shreds the fog
of grief until lemon-gold light
streams over the spruce.
Let your down-bow spill colors
of mountain wildflowers, jewelweed
and dewberry drifting to your feet
as you pull your life back
through this hollow piece of wood.
I would rather wade
naked through slop
slimy with leeches
than be with you
if you died
with me at your side
all the faith I could muster
couldn't keep me
into the pit
right along with you
if I were you
I wouldn't hang around any one place
someone with sense
gets to know you
as you really are
and you're dead
She thinks of the fragrant truffles,
that grew beneath an oak,
bathed in a champagne sauce
beside the artichoke.
The hors d'oeuvres, a fine paté,
were grace for any coup,
but this feast fit for royalty
was no feast at seventy-two.
She tastes a spoonful of trifle and takes
a bite of the cake. Soon
she'll find a bottle of sherry
and spend the night awake.
The years that have piled upon her
now hang heavy and loose.
She has friends who've wined and dined her
and the rest of her life to lose.
The young prince liked games, the story begins.
He would play for hours with all of his friends.
Big friends, little friends, and none were the same.
One friend was an elf and Bruce was his name.
I have a problem, he told his friend Bruce.
When I run real fast my shoes get too loose.
Bruce gave him some gum to stick in his shoe.
This gooey green gum is just right for you.
The prince took the gum and stuck it inside.
But then he found out his shoes were too wide.
A hotdog, said Bruce, will take up the slack.
Wow! you're so clever, the prince answered back.
Bruce said, it's perfect, it's just the right size.
The prince was impressed his friend was so wise.
Then Bruce carried on, just do as I say
your shoes will fit fine, you can play all day.
But, the prince thought as he stared at his shoe,
does Bruce really know much more than I do?
How 'bout in the park when I'm playing ball?
The mustard might squish and then I might fall.
And it could be worse if it starts to rain,
the prince now began to use his young brain.
Perhaps my friend Bruce is not a smart elf.
Maybe it's better to think for myself.
Instead of green gum and a hotdog too,
I think what I need is a smaller shoe.
He told his mother and she was so proud.
She summoned her court and announced out loud.
My young child the prince is ready to reign,
because he's begun to think with his brain.
Today he has learned a lesson so true:
To think for yourself is what you should do.
(First published in the children's picture book,
The Prince and the Elf, Amazon.com)
A red cut-glass bowl filled with sticky
licorice sits on Nana's doily covered coffee table.
Only one piece!
She lived in a dark house with a blind man.
Damask curtains suffocated the lace
that failed to flutter through windows
held open with a piece of worn wood.
In her print house dress, slide-on slippers, a damp
embroidered handkerchief stuffed into her brassiere
she shuffled from kitchen to living room scolding Papa in Yiddish,
soothing him with cold borscht and sour cream.
My sister still blames her for something she didn't do
and something she didn't say years ago.
She forgets how we dressed up, like little girls do,
in open-toed high heels, fur stoles,
draped with strings of pearls and crystal beads,
our lips and cheeks tinged red with rouge,
how we listened behind closed doors
to conversations we weren't meant to understand,
journeyed into the lives of aunts and uncles and cousins
around a carved mahogany dining room table.
We brought light into dark rooms.
She forgets the light we found in dark corners.
How much would woeful worry choke her heart?
Loving-- then crossing fingers hoping
And praying inside—fearing each next hour.
Had boy-on-girl love enwrapped her dream
In real--- or would she just await a lover's scorn
And anger to blame her loose and wanton ways?
Had curtains lifted where she had staged her skit
With love—but without a plot--without a score?
At first, the play re-played glowing memories:
A lip lock
A fastened tongue
A magic moment's clasp.
But memories soon had turned to dark within:
An aching heart,
A sour taste,
A messy dress.
Her car alone drove that night:
No boy around--
No sweet after kiss--
No clutching each the other!
At home, she buried empty hope and placed
Her evening rose in waterless despair
That vase now held for her drooping soul.
And she recalled upon a pillow hollow
What could have been that was before.
But now no more! For all the music's dead!
My soul longs to fly south like the birds of summer
and steal away from snow showered days.
Cast off this winter coat of memories,
this cocoon smothers like a white walled prison.
I see clearly now in fresh fallen powder,
the whiteout has awakened my spirit.
Bound by the blizzard of yesterday,
I need to break free to balmy days.
Gather my thoughts into a snow globe,
capture these cold cognitions.
Leave on a sill for a sunbathed stay—
shake when I want to recall the chill.
My thoughts frozen perfectly in time
safely in a crystal orb,
time to leave this polar place behind.
My soul longs to fly south like the birds of summer.
He nods to me in the waiting room,
precedes me down the hall,
his blue doctor coat flaps.
I follow the pad of his moccasins,
sit across from him eye to eye
at his tidy desk, peer into serious glasses,
a face haloed
with salted hair and beard.
A homeopathic MD.
I'm here, I told him, because someone
I met said you saved her life.
I learn the routine, tell how I've been—
headaches, digestion, emotions, pain.
Any detail that might help him decide
what remedy might heal. He observes me,
probes to learn more. I've wondered
what he thinks of what I say, why it matters
if I prefer hot drinks to cold
or what I crave (always sugar). Is the pain
more left-sided or right.
Would I be comforted when sick
by having someone with me
or prefer to be left alone. Am I better in the sun.
Do I sleep without covers. Want a fan
on my face. Am I thrifty, extravagant,
do I fear falling or ghosts.
I ask about the science,
about the stuff of remedies,
three thousand or more,
one part remedy in a trillion parts of water.
Tinctures made, diluted and shaken
from plants, animals, minerals.
Who would guess—
Cat's milk. Salt.
Black widow spider.
of chopped lean beef.
Copper, tin, the honey bee.
Granite, graphite, rose quartz.
The Spanish fly and oyster shells.
Deer antler velvet, mountain daisies,
feathers of a European finch, castor oil.
Arsenic. Arborvitae. Tea.
Stories lie behind each—rhus tox
from poison ivy when joints
act like rusty gates,
aurum metallicum when light's gold
is gone from the world, sepia,
for when one wants to keep people away
like the cuttlefish that shoots out ink
to ward off danger,
and lachesis, from the venom
of the bushmaster snake that bites
when one needs the blood to flow.
I keep going back. Once a month or so.
Since 1996. It works.
I go with it, this tuning.
It's about finding the right potency.
A search for the body's right vibration.
Playing music on water glasses.
My body—a glass harp
tapped and tuned
until it sings.
(Published in Homeopathy Today, Spring 2014)
I'm trying out my
weather alert radio
going through the channels
when out of
the static and buzz
comes the play by play
of a baseball game
crowd roar a solid
and I am carried back
to the days of my youth
in high school
listening to the
world series in the fall
afternoon weekday games
a bunch of the guys
hunkered around the radio
trying to catch each play
as it was described
picturing in our minds
the rise of the ball
into center field
the slow slow fall
as the outfielder
raced out for the catch
was a sometimes thing
and the radio
was plugged into the wall
and the thrill of listening
was almost as good
as being there
began his speech
praising his troops
for their compassion
and raped and killed
Yes, I was there he said
to comfort those in pain
and hear their final sigh
I wanted you families to know
how your sons and daughters lived
and also how they died
He ended his speech
war isn't only about
how many are killed
How Many Lives Are Saved
The rusted radiator clangs like garbage can drums in the barrio.
Kitchen chairs upholstered in plastic lean under the table, legs akimbo.
I cook dinner concocted from nothing, and pray there's some left for tomorrow.
Downstairs, she sits on an orange-crate chair of provincial pretense,
serving make-believe guests out of paper cups crayoned in Wedgwood blue.
My makeshift desk is littered with bills so I flip a coin,
having learned the gymnastics of cascading credit, grieving each dollar's farewell.
She's perched beside me, surrounded with scrips and scraps, scissors and paste,
laying out a collage on the rump of discarded mail,
a slivered eyebrow, a jack-o-lantern mouth, and hair of frayed wrappings.
It will join the others as a mural of sorts, her homemade Madonna of joy.
At night, sirens howl like banshees, demanding their share of disaster.
Baritone rumblings dance an ecstasy of love or brutality over my bed
and I clutch at my knees, fighting the rush of remembrance.
Early risers hawk their wares, playing a marimba on the window bars,
while she emerges in a rhapsody to sing a song of exaltation.
Motherhood was a shove through untested ice and I kept moving so as not to die,
foraging, then adapting like a shark in my sandpapered skin.
She is trying out life like a dolphin at play, savoring each morsel of bliss,
and I am loathe to tell her otherwise, for it would break her heart, and mine.
~after Nancy Willard
When the last shadow falls from day
and the sun turns into the moon,
nothing is gone but the noise
crowds carry away in their trucks
children dream of in their sleep
and mothers silence with whispers.
When dusk dreams of sun
as it drifts into sleep,
the present becomes the past
and one day slips out of the shoe of another.
(Published in Brevity Poetry Review, Fall 2012)
it's the longest day
I write a poem, uninspired
by the long drought, the cracked earth,
the drooping hydrangeas, the parade
of black ants I've never seen before
crossing the front steps, the yellow
grass crisp underfoot, the sparrows
bathing in dust, flailing their wings.
At night the Dipper is empty,
holding nothing but a void
of stars. I await rain
from this most unlikely source,
imagining it tip and pour,
drenching the evening sky.
Matter rearranges itself,
readying for tomorrow's storm,
forecast in red. Startled by thunder,
I drink the last electric years
from my cupped hands,
watch the moon's effervescence
turn my flesh to ash
in the first tentative drops.
From this moment, the days
will be foreshortened,
heading toward snow
and the still-beating of wings.
(First published in Acumen)
I study your large head, your mane silvered
with age. In your warm brown eyes, time
dissolves as I reach back beyond the accident,
and you become breath of sun-scorched hay,
nuzzle against my arm, lick of tongue on my hand.
You lip apple wedges from my palm, and I listen
to the chew and crunch. I meet your steady gaze
on my face like a small thank you between us.
Standing now before you, in silence,
the canter of hooves across the vast and varied
terrain fills my body with animal energy, the power
you hold within, the gentleness it belies.
Your coat carries the arc and blur of summer,
the scent of clover wafts around you,
and I am returned to earthly abundance
re-learning all that was lost in the fall.
Polly Poplin was a very bad child,
Day and night little Polly ran wild.
She drank her grandma's whiskey and she smoked her grandpa's pipe,
And there wasn't any item that Polly wouldn't swipe.
She put frogs in the stewpot and snakes in the laundry,
And left her family in a great big quandary.
I blame Polly's mother for her being so bad,
Her mother ran off with a Shropshire lad.
Her father was too busy to tell Polly what to do,
He had a job raising tigers for the zoo.
He loved the pretty tigers and he worked very hard
And the tigers were in cages right out in the yard.
One dark and stormy night the wind was high
And the thunder and lightning crackled in the sky,
It was the kind of night that fills one with dread,
And suddenly a Goblin stood right by Polly's bed!
He was nasty and dirty and he smelled like rotten cheese
And his horrible hat was all covered with fleas,
And he said to Polly, "You must come along
To a terrible place for children who do wrong."
Was Polly Poplin fazed? Oh, no, not a whit.
She said, "I'll get my coat and be with you in a bit.
But before I do that, I cannot tell a lie,
There's a much worse child than me nearby,
And I'm sure you're a fine upstanding Goblin in your sphere,
And would rather take a badder child, if she were here."
The Goblin said, "Thank you, for you're very kind."
And Polly said, "Then come this way, if you don't mind."
They went out in the black night where the storm still rages
And Polly took him straight to the tiger cages.
"We're here now, Mr. Goblin, just open that door."
The Goblin did it, and was seen no more!
Yes, the tiger ate him up with one big slurp,
Then settled back down with a satisfied burp,
And wiped his whiskers in the manner of a cat,
And spat out the Goblin's horrible hat.
And here is the moral, if you're a nasty Goblin,
Don't mess around with Polly Poplin!
Who can recall those long gone days of old
When neighbors "hung out" while hanging clothes?
And aprons worn while chickens fed, gardening chores, eggs we fetched.
A day to clean, to bake, to mend, to iron with aprons so necessary.
For an apron as cover could wipe the dust and spills or erase the tears.
An apron hung, to market or church we would run in clothes cleanly worn.
At night, with kids along to nearby homes, a hostess wore her fancy one.
We might be carried home, so tired yet glad we did not miss the fun.
The sounds of trucks nightly on our highway and the bed so soft
With Granma Riney, apron hung til morn, in her flannel nightie
Dawn found her rustling around the house, not quite dressed
But aproned later, she met the chores with cheer and little fuss.
Those were the days of old when life was sure to thank most of us
And so much hopefulness. Now we seem to need some ways to hold
The household strong, with news so grim, our challenges many.
Perhaps I'll just sit a spell and then find my apron tent to be a comfort.
The tortures of Hell don't compare
To the pain I feel inside;
A loneliness, guilt and despair
That I've felt since the day I died.
But I know I deserve this fate
'Cause of my bad decisions in life;
I no longer have the patience to wait,
To return to my beloved wife.
But I'm down here and she's up there—
How am I supposed to reach above?
I'll find a way out—I don't care!—
I'll fly away like a dove.
I decided to make some wings
(Don't think of a dove, think of a bat);
Hellish mockery echoes and rings,
Denizens chant: "You can't fly with that!"
"Farouk, you must be crazy, mad,"
Is what Satan said to me.
I said, "Don't worry my ugly lad,
It'll work, just wait and see."
Up!—Up!—And away I flew!—
Above Satan, sinner and all;
Fire and brimstone—at me they threw!
"Curse you Farouk! We hope you fall!"
A bat out of Hell (I truly am)—
I said goodbye to The Abyss;
But before I left and made my scram,
I flipped them off and blew them a kiss.
Farther and further up I went
Until the pearly gate I saw;
Heaven was amazed at what's been sent,
Glaring and staring in awe.
They said: "Farouk, you're not welcome here,
Go back whence you came."
"I've come only to see my dear,
I can't go back to The Flame."
They slammed the gate in face,
I walked away in tears,
Humiliation and disgrace—
It was more than my worst fears.
I said to myself: "I won't go away
Or be so easily denied
On this sullen and most trying day—
I'm not leaving but with my bride!"
I stormed back and broke the gate
Like a wild, maniacal beast,
Dodging sentries at a speedy rate—
Like a bullet, to say the least.
High and low, near and far—
I searched to no avail,
Until I saw a blazing star
At the end of a lengthy trail.
Behold!—A most surreal chateau
Sitting on a mountaintop:
Shiny silver and white like snow—
A sight that made my jaw drop.
I figured: "This must be it!
Where else would my love reside?"
I dashed ahead with guts and grit,
Bolting up the mountainside.
"Catch him!" I heard them yell,
The sentries were hot on my heel;
Maybe thousands, I couldn't tell,
I ran with new zest and zeal.
Reaching the top, I hesitated,
Wondering: "Ok, now what's in store?
What if my luck is ill-fated?—
Screw it!" I knocked on the door.
He has interrupted nature with dead-end streets,
and hides from beast and God
in towers of steel and concrete;
he moves swiftly
in domes of tin and glass,
But from a higher view,
the meadows are laced with unending ribbons of gray
and his fine patchwork
of alternating yellows and greens
make a banner to the labor of his hands.
The clearing on the mountainside,
the vessels on the stream,
the towns huddled around the steeples
do not offend Nature.
He has dotted the valleys with roofs of slate,
and here and there
the smoke from a chimney
gives him away.
He travels lazily
down the rivers and roads,
These too are God's creation,
and from the wings
interior to his scheme.
Let my mind take you to a garden so very lovely
In Southern Illinois that I think of so very highly,
God must of had a green thumb in his affection
In creating such a splendid place of his perfection,
The highest peak in Southern Illinois is Bald Knob
Mountain near Palo Alto that makes my heart throb,
There's a huge white cross for Easter morning sunrise
Little brother and I played in the Ohio river that poetize,
My memories of Camel Rock at Shawnee National Forest
And all it's beautiful lakes, rivers a really fine place to rest,
I've always been mystified by the Wabash river's strange
Way of winding through the country side down it's range,
To empty into the Ohio river I'd like to selfie that fine scene
The rich black soil is worth more than all the gold ever seen,
Oh how long it's been since I have heard the night sound
Of the Whippoorwills in nocturnal distance I'm so spellbound,
In the day light you can hear the sound of the little Bobwhite
And smell the Honey suckle along the fence row was so polite,
While the tantalizing sweet aroma of the fresh cut Alfalfa Hay
While surviving is the Red Bird and the Robin always stay,
Driving down a gravel country road in front of a trail of dust
I saw an old John Deere tractor sitting by a barn turning to rust,
I hear a sound like wind blowing through the Hickory trees where
Dad and I use to pick up Hickory Nuts off the ground as I share
The beauty of the Autumn are many colors of the season there,
This is Southern Illinois that inspires my life from which I grew up
I love to imagine the Virgin Mary walking over Crab Orchard Lake
Mary brings the peace of the morning on Gold Hill's morning dew
The waterfalls at Karber's Ridge looks like a lovely maiden's woo,
The rocks and stones above the cliff forms her face on top of the ridge
As the waterfalls looks like her long beautiful flowing hair's prestige,
Her face is pointing up to the sky as if sleeping in this garden of Mother
Nature where the Angels fly and swirl like auras are the Fire Flies cover,
A ocean of corn and soybean fields dotted with small towns the easy life
I left you Southern Illinois but I did not forget you in my life's strife,
A fine red tic dog named Copper whome we loved I'd say yup
She was so little when we got her I watched he grow up from a pup,
To remember the smell of the fish markets floating as anchord by
The banks of the Mississippi river my vision in the lovely blue sky
I cast a poem into the air.
It floated around from here to there.
It rained on parades and cast despair
on gentlemen lost and ladies fair.
It floated on without a care
and asked the public if they would dare.
Although folks added a certain flair
they still had on their underwear.
"Take them off," it began to blare.
"To tell the truth, one must be bare.
So I leave now, and this I share—
Enjoy your steaks, but don't eat rare."
Twas then it landed on my chair,
so I wiped its nose and combed its hair.
I stand bone-soaked
in a sudden word storm,
pelted by torrents
of dark thunderous talk
whirling from every
direction. Mouths roar,
tongues spit bolts of lightning,
hammers my back.
Then you invite me to step
into the quiet shelter
of your blue umbrella eyes.
A patch of pale sky
beyond the indigo downpour.
Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.
Prov 16:31 (NRSVB)
The autumn's end begins the savage cold
With chills that pierce the body to the bone.
It freezes flesh to click jaw teeth to moan
And gnaw in code the message once foretold:
The summer's sun with warmth and light makes bold
The youthful heart to flutter like a drone
To carefree sow forgetting what is sown
Till autumn frosts geraniums to fold.
Then hummingbird hearts hover to recall
There is a reason for each life to mend
The nectar-gathering, grasshopper ways.
So soon the winter's blizzard drifts to wall
The soul in death where darkness has no end
Except by faith and works from younger days.
If might makes right, why fight at all.
Constantly battling, with your back against the wall.
They have the numbers, you'll eventually fall.
They don't comprehend why you must stand tall,
nor understand where you get the gall.
But you do....
Because you have to answer, to a higher call.
A friend told of a time playing chess,
where they filmed "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest."
At Oregon state mental hospital,
he did the impossible,
he might've beaten the best!
When they filmed the nest movie,
the real patients were shy.
No movie about their lives,
time passed them by.
Someone jumped from a window,
I guess they wanted to die.
Either that, or maybe other;
they were trying to fly!
500 patients were poisoned,
at Oregon State Hospital,
November 18, 1942.
The scrambled eggs were bad,
The cooks were responsible,
47 people died, too.
It turned out to be cockroach poison,
that brought the fatal disease.
Only the chefs knew about it,
they were the only ones with keys.
The cooks were charged with murder,
the mentally ill man who helped
bring the rat poison from the cellar
got killed in a fight and fell.
It is said great poetry and art,
comes from the mentally ill heart.
But that's the ones we hear about,
The rest leave you in doubt.
Load them up on Thorazine,
Maybe they'll put together a magazine.
Put them in balls and chains,
maybe they won't go insane.
Give them therapy, an electric shock,
so they sit there and just rock.
Not everything has been done under the sun,
The insane can still have a victory won.
No voice is too big or too small,
even if you take lithium or Hal-dol.
Pretty soon they'll be the majority,
no longer will they be treated with inferiority!
Not all of them are going to get violent,
but from now on, they're not going to be silent!
Three hours down the highway
between St. Paul and Chicago
my life's songs begin to sing
on the radio.
"Chances Are" to "Hound Dog,"
the miles slip into years
while Wisconsin bison stand
in snowy corn stubble
and another station advises
women to be good role models
for their daughters who should
learn to treat their husbands right –
a donation of fourteen dollars
will buy a book on how to create
which brings me back to the oldies
station and the soundtrack of my youth
speaking in Father Knows Best Voices,
saccharine with myth and promises.
Farms fade into prefab houses
spreading like buckthorn
over rolling prairie, and there's
that song "Country Roads,"
but that's West Virginia not the Midwest
F. Scott Fitzgerald tried to forget.
A store offering naughty novelties
begins the end of radio signals
tracing my way home.
We as the black butterfly must teach our generations about the
struggle for freedom we surpass. Not only for the past
generations but for the present and future as well.
The children must know it was our dreams that cultivated our
faith and brought us through desolation. Now that we are free
teach the children to move forward, to be seen and be heard.
We as God's children have the light; just open our minds and
eyes because we are close to glory.
So let us all remember that whenever we need it, we can always
go back and read it for God is with us forever more.
Summer sounds saturate the air.
Cicadas sing their sonic songs.
Kids frolic, shrieking screams their fare.
Summer sounds saturate the air.
Grown-ups guffaw, gibe, joke and swear,
Lawn mowers blare 'mongst gathered throngs.
Summer sounds saturate the air.
Cicadas sing their sonic songs.
We meet historically
Into the canvass of Time and Space
In their race
To be free and independent
To the will of those
Who took their trains
Into the direction of Eternity
Cementing the fraternity
Of the unions and pacts
That were their lives
And, now, are only the facts
Of the Having-Beens
That are seen
By our eyes,
And we are surprised,
Were those in the Preterit,
How wise we are to enjoy that wisdom
To be proud to say:
"when it comes to innovation,
Chicago leads the Nation!"
flooring, though manmade,
attempts to replicate nature,
the complexity of aged stone,
an indelible strength built
into the heart of it that seems
like virtue when it will be
struck by many feet, and
from which one can easily
clear away the debris that
brushes with humanity
will inevitably bring.
Myriad bits of mosaic fall
into random patterns, make
a tough support from within
its once-molten core under
years of traffic and toil, also
the wear and tear of going
unnoticed while a workhorse
At its heart, lowly terrazo is
relegated by society to an
imagined imitation of the real
thing. Lost is any singularity,
originality, or even creativity
(and concomitant appreciation)
when indestructibleness is
the only desired result.
Who has dared to disturb my silent
walk through these rooms?
For a hundred years I have made
my reverent pilgrimage.
Do you think
to hold in the past with a wrecking ball?
I am the ghost of Benedictine Hall.
A century has turned since Jaeger
laid the cornerstone. They and their
generation have turned to dust.
How many men have entered under
"God, Church, and Country?"
Who now prays in Sisters' Chapel?
Do the Kitchen Sisters yet cook?
Are there still experiments in Bugs Lab?
And who shall carve the turkey this
Christmas laboring to come?
Strange, I hear no conversation in Scholars' Lounge.
Floating through the 4th floor attic
I seem to hear the strains of a tune.
And look, the Sisters are climbing solemnly
the steps to 2nd floor, to Sisters' Chapel.
The students who have passed
through the corridors and ascended
the quaint stairs, I know them all:
doctors, lawyers, priests, monks;
men and women who shall carry with them
the memory of this place...as do I.
The cornerstone was moved from Ben Hall
to Kindlon, but the cornerstone
which is Christ is from Alpha
to Omega. His watch—eternal.
I am the ghost of Benedictine Hall.
Who am I, ye inquire so?
When all mysteries are revealed,
then, then shall you know.
(Published in The Candor,
Benedictine University, 9/14/2004)
I spot a one.
He changes lanes abruptly
right in front of me, no signal.
My teeth clench.
He is number one in his machismo,
and I a separate one in irritation.
Another one is following my car
close enough to fill my mirror.
I want to slow down
and teach him a lesson,
but instead I simmer along
as one trapped.
I notice my cozy tailgater is flying
an American flag above his window,
loyal in some kind of patriotism,
separate in some kind of jingoism,
and I explore my intolerance.
By "ones" I mean sequestered minds,
"me" people in a universe of "not me."
Ones will celebrate their personal glory
then perish into their self-created void.
Ones will say we go around just once,
done, with no later come-arounds,
so that when the gustoed body quits,
the mind joins Big Zero forever.
Why don't I think the same as that?
With not one proof that holds a drop,
I see a future human state
unhindered by me-centric rivalries.
Birthing time and time again,
evolving life by life eternally,
it seems to me we'll someday
give up being ones, and enter
fully the community of Unity
where competition isn't.
Though now I seem a one
to any other one,
as the other one, for now,
may seem a one to me,
I hear an inner-speaking
Spirit say that all of us
are one with Utmost One
and separated mainly by
our walled-off minds and
pretty bags of bones.
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