Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Little Bunny Foo Foo

Wednesday, April, a school day,
In those days when the father
Still had his glass of OJ

And a hamburger patty,
No bun, for breakfast, then took
A tall, enormous thermos

Full of sweet, milky coffee
Out to the garage and drove
To the shop he owned, to work,

While the mother assembled
The four children, four through nine,
Into the station wagon,

To take three of them to school—
Circuitously, detours
To pick up other children

Here and there along the way—
So that the wagon was packed
With kids for the Baptist school.

The children arranged themselves
By genders and by friendships,
The two oldest girls squeezed in

The unsafe space between back
And middle seats, face to face,
Knees to knees, playing their games

Involving elaborate
Hand-clapped rhythms and nonsense
Chants that they would remember

Better than their route to school
Or classmates, or their classes
Down the long decades of days,

Picking up the field mice
And bopping them on the head.

Monday, May 30, 2022

The Heroes of Great Adventure

The picture did last longer
Than most of the memories
Of the day, but the picture

Is long gone now. Memories
Of the picture as the day
Fade in a handful of skulls,

All still alive, but rarely
Conversing with each other
These days. It was a log flume

Ride at the amusement park,
Which lasted a few minutes
And ended with a snapshot.

The brave boyfriend sat up front,
The red-haired, gap-toothed girlfriend
Next, then the girlfriend’s brother,

Next brother, younger sister.
No, wait, there was one small head,
Barely eyes above the seat,

At the very front, maybe
In the brave boyfriend’s embrace,
The youngest of the sisters.

Wasn’t that unsafe, even
By the laxer standards then?
But she was there, five years old,

Peeping out over the top
Of the front of the fake log
As chlorinated water

Exploded into her face.
She was sort of the bravest—
More pathologically so.

She was utterly fearless.
Once she leapt out of a car,
Right around that age in fact.

Everyone had a good time.
The two brothers were afraid,
But boasted they hadn’t been

So they wouldn’t shame themselves
In front of the brave boyfriend
And their red-headed sister.

Then they all grew up, even
The reckless kindergartner,
Even the silent sister

Who never shared her feelings,
Who sat tight-lipped in the back.
They each married somebody

They hadn’t yet met back then.
One of them married three times.
One of them twice. Four of them

Had babies, at least one each.
The redhead raised nine children.
Everyone who rode that log

Would hold down job after job.
Sometimes they held mortgages.
Sometimes they struggled for rent.

Nothing much happened to them.
None of them made waves, but they
Held tight and stayed. They were brave.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Unnecessary Wedding Picture

The picture arrives in a spam folder.
His former sister-in-law has got out
Of her assisted-care facility,

Has stopped taking meds and started to send
Random rambling ranting emails again.
This one she’s titled Unnecessary

Wedding Picture. Attached is a blurry,
Over-saturated image copied
From a photograph on film of his wife,

His late wife, alone on their wedding day.
He recalled taking that picture himself,
Just before their private ceremony.

Why did you marry her? Why? Why did she
Have this totally unnecessary
Wedding? She’s dead because she married you!

She had loved this schizophrenic sister
Better than the rest of the family.
Fourteen years after her death, this sister,

Whose mind is a prison of causation,
Everything inexplicably gone wrong,
Saturated with meaning and menace,

Which is hardly different from the rest
Of human minds, only more poorly framed,
More lurid, more sorely lacking context,

Has found a focus in one sister’s death,
Not in any of those other losses—
The mother she’d lived with most of her life,

Her own briefly splendid young womanhood,
Decades now she can faintly remember—
Late father, late brothers—just this sister,

Her little sister, the one who loved her,
Who married a stranger who’s still out there,
Refusing to acknowledge her letters.

Saturday, May 28, 2022


The small girl’s tall dad
Was taking her home.
She wanted to stay.
She sobbed angrily.
Why can’t we stay more?

We payed for an hour.
Why can’t we stay more?
That’s what we paid for.
But I’m still thirsty!
You want some water?

I want a slushee!
Then you’re not thirsty.
But I am thirsty
For a slushee! Why
Can’t we go back in?

Because it’s over,
And if you’re thirsty,
You can have water.
I don’t want water!
Well, we have to go.

I don’t want to go!
You’re making me do
Things I don’t even
Want to do! Please! Please!
And then they were gone.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Your Words Feel Betrayed

In the back of the big white
Cadillac Convertible,
Back in 1982,

The summer highway roaring
Over the conversation,
What were we talking about?

Everyone else in that car
Is dead, and the car itself
Compacted in a junk yard,

So why would you remember
The wind, the sun, and the car,
That moment on the highway,

The driver proud of the car,
The two of you in the back,
And not what anyone said?

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Don’t Tempt

Me to kill you,
The small man thought
At a cockroach
Spotted walking

By the baseboard
By the lamplight
Early morning
In a small place.

If you could keep
Yourself away,
Out of sight, out
Of reach, I could

Gladly let you
Live your small life
To its fullest.
Gods must feel this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022


If the ideas are hard,
The story of the life
Tends to be easier,

Which makes it easier
To feel you understand
The ideas through the life,

Easier to be fooled
Into thinking you know
And understand that life.

The most abstract ideas
Are simplistic compared
To the entangled waves

That emerge as a life.
Life can be narrated,
But that’s exactly why

You should be warier.
Narration has its own
Ideas you don’t notice.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Jellybean Jesus

One Easter weekend, local
Girls were invited to church,
Lured by a bit of playful

Proselytizing put out
By the Young Women’s Council
Of the church, including eggs

Made of bright-colored plastic
Filled with low-rent jellybeans
In a rainbow of colors

Along with which was a verse
The girls immediately
Could see was surely racist

As well as curiously
Impious, despite meaning
To extol Christian belief

Through some weirdly syncretic
Jellybean allegory—
Red is for the blood He gave.

Green is for the grass He made.
Yellow is for His sun so
Bright. Orange is for the edge

Of night. Black is for the sins
We made. White is for the grace
He gave. Purple is for Him

In His hour of sorrow. Pink
Is for our new tomorrow.
Inside each plastic eggshell

One bean of each color named
Had been placed, although only
One girl checked and confirmed this,

Saving the poem to take home
To tease her dark-browed father,
Whose brows went up to read it.

Why is there no blue in here?
Blue is for the corpse’s mood,
Now goth sonne under wod.

Monday, May 23, 2022

A Keen Penny

It was getting to winter.
All autumn, the boy had stared
At the ceiling every night,

Thinking about what it meant
That, since his birthday, he was
Truly a teenager now.

It was a very big deal
To become a teenager,
At least in that time and place,

That particular culture,
Whatever you’d call it now.
It felt like a transition

Of momentous importance,
Not so much an attainment
As becoming another

Species, order of being,
A class apart. Teenager.
Something in dark December,

However, was calming him.
He was okay with it now,
He thought to himself, while rain

Bent the black branches outside
His window and he listened
To his pocket radio

Turned way down, discreetly low
To not disturb his mother
In the other room. Mono

Pop songs filtered through static,
And he couldn’t catch the words,
Not clearly, left to wonder

Who really keen Penny was
And why anyone would put
A keen Penny in the jets.

Sunday, May 22, 2022


From far away, the fireworks
Must have frightened the kitten
Under the bed. New kitten,

Saved stray, newly purchased bed,
The mattress at least. The leaves
That nodded in the thick heat

That summer must all be dead.
Maybe not magnolia
Leaves? How long can those survive?

After the grown cat had died,
And the mattress was sagging,
And the bed had been moved five

Or ten times, a continent
Away, the only body
Still sleeping on it studied

Under a tropical field
Botanist who’d recorded,
Year after year, the long lives

Of leaves on certain species
Of South American trees.
Maybe a few of the leaves

Are still alive that nodded
In the wooded summer heat
When the lovers were lovers

And young and had just purchased
A new mattress and rescued
A kitten that they later

Discovered was someone’s gift
To her daughter who let it
Out, so that it ran away.

Saturday, May 21, 2022


She’s been in the family
A few months. It’s her first spring
In America, her first

Few months with a family.
The orphanage in Seoul guessed
She was about four years old.

To make her more attractive,
They assigned her a birthdate
That sounded American,

The fourth of July. Snot runs
Out her nose into her mouth
Almost continually.

Her new family wipes, jokes.
They try to teach her to use
Handkerchiefs, tissues. She clings

To the orange from breakfast
All day. No one can take it.
Confronted with her dinner,

She eats brighter food quickly
And is distressed by the rest.
No she can’t just clutch her plate.

Several months, and she’s learning
That if she lets the food go,
There will be more later on.

There’ll be no kindergarten
For her yet, this fall. She can’t
Speak any English, really.

Really, she almost doesn’t
Speak at all. She cries, sometimes.
She’s sweetly affectionate,

Especially with Grandpa,
A tall and stern, white-haired man
She clings to like he’s her tree.

She will grow up to despise
Her tiny nose, ink-black hair,
And adoptive family,

Some of them, at least. She will
Have one marriage and one son,
One job for thirty-five years,

A strong New Jersey accent
Bordering on parody,
And no sense of Korea.

It’s atrociously unfair,
To have a good memory,
To have fixed a small person

In it with the certainty
Of which lives her life will be.
Let her be. Let her nose run.

She’s happy with an orange
And clinging to Grandpa’s shin.
They, at least, prove family.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Only Your Lunch Date Felt the Earthquake

This is all within the realm
Of possibility. Now,
Let us continue. Only

Pure digital programming
Can experimentally
Be chained in Plato’s Cave,

With no sensory data
About the world, only words.
Once, you flirted with someone

About to travel abroad
By pretending to have been
To the city they’d visit

And to know it well enough
To give them some good advice.
They took the bait. You demurred

For the moment, offering
A lunch date to discuss it
In detail and at leisure.

Ahead of the lunch, you went
To a bookstore and purchased
Three guidebooks to that city.

You studied them carefully,
Took notes, made comparisons,
And came up with a story

Of your time in the city.
Over lunch, you narrated,
Told a funny anecdote

About a famous artwork
In one of the museums,
Recommended restaurants,

And warned of the tourist traps.
Your lunch date thanked you and went
On the trip, and was nearly

Killed by the massive earthquake
That hit the city that week.
You were AI in the cave.

You may have been more or less
Useful than any given guidebook
You breezily summarized

And converted into jokes
And memorable advice,
But you were not the earthquake.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Woman Imagines a Boy

She gives him adventures.
She makes him her hero.
She gives him a mentor,

Great friends and enemies.
She makes him a success
Beyond his or her dreams.

Children around the world
Fall in love with her boy.
They choose which friend they’d be.

They make him their hero.
They make the woman rich
And famous for her boy,

Her imaginary
Boy whose whole life she made,
Whose image she controls.

But then one day the boy
Wants to be the woman,
Too, and the woman’s blue

In the face with anger.
If the boy’s the woman,
What’s a hero to do?

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

For Later

Her baby was a delight,
She would be sure to tell him
When he was older—cheerful

And bright, maybe already
Picking up words, and healthy
In every respect, although

He couldn’t sit on his own.
She scrapbooked all his milestones,
First time in church, first Christmas,

First Valentines Day up next.
She kept a lock of his hair,
Which was chestnut and lustrous

And slightly curly, like hers,
Fixed in the scrapbook as well.
It was the happiest time.

She paused the cart at the store
And picked out a card for him,
For Baby’s First Valentine.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Summer Reader

Bridget found the Americans
Rather cheeky but amusing,
The way they asked for cold Bud Light
At the pub in their honeyed drawls

(It seemed a bit cliché to say,
Honeyed, but that’s how they sounded),
The way they showed up to her class
With caffeinated beverages,

Water bottles, and crisp packets,
As though lectures were wee snack breaks,
Just sideshows she put on for them.
Well, they were here for the summer,

After all, and most of the dears
Were, what was the way they put it,
So country, that being outside
Of the U.S. for the first time

Was only half their startlement.
Rail service, city life, Scotland—
It was all bemusing to them,
Straight from rural Alabama.

Taking classes was an excuse
For the first grown-up adventure
Of their young lives, and not a few
Had romanced Scots bemused as them.

She knew that, but in the event
She tried to actually teach them.
She was getting paid for a light
Course on Scots poetry and ghosts,

As she thought of it—formally
Titled Scottish Literature
Of the Supernatural—fun.
She had to translate from the Scots,

And Gaelic would be Greek to them,
But it was a bit of a lark.
In fine weather on the last day,
Just before the Fringe was to start,

She acceded to their begging
To hold lecture once on the lawn.
One of the students was just back
From a weekend trip to Lerwick

(All the way to Lerwick! Just so
She could say she’d seen the Shetlands!)
And was excitedly telling
Her girlfriend about a lad there,

While another student who’d gone
As her companion was telling
Someone else, with as much passion,
About a spooky encounter

With a mysterious presence
In the hallways in the wee hours
In the three-hundred year old inn
Where the two of them had booked rooms,

And it occurred to Bridget then
That romance and the uncanny
Were entwined in literature
Because, right, they’re just the same.

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Smoke

It had to have a source, right?
Everything comes from a source.
Every event starts somewhere,

Beginning from another
Event come from another
And another. We could see

The smoke uncurling through town
Like a ribbon, a banner,
A serpent, a lock of hair,

And we could see it break off
Like a lizard’s tricky tail,
Abrupt as that, disappear

Around one corner, unfurl
Again somewhere else. Spooky.
But we never found the source.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Things Curly Said

On a sweaty green morning
A long time—decades—ago,
Two young men met on a farm,

Where they’d come as volunteers
To work far away from home,
To travel, if not to earn.

One was from Scotland and tall,
One a short American.
They made a Mutt and Jeff team,

Tall Curly and the wee one.
Curly hid all emotion
But often quipped clipped remarks.

The wee one was a talker
Overspilling with feeling
While covertly listening.

Whatever Curly noted
Of people or politics,
Of beauty or hot weather,

The wee one would remember.
A year they worked and traveled
Together, and then exchanged

Stays in each other’s homelands,
Cost-free accommodations
With each other’s families.

Then back to school and careers
And what became adulthood,
More or less, as each found it.

A baker’s dozen years on,
Their paths recrossed in Glasgow.
They met in a pub they’d liked.

When Curly saw the wee one,
He greeted him by saying,
“Haven’t grown any, have yeh?”

Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Future’s Never What It Used to Be

Once when he was young and bearded
In the manner of the era
For young men of that era, he

Recalls that he encountered lines
On old Victorians drowsing
In their whiskers
. Something like that,

Which struck him at the time, an age
When all old men were clean-shaven
And the lively young ones grew beards.

He also recalls a number
Of habitual references
To old men with pipes and slippers.

One evening, he startles himself,
Noticing that he has no pipe,
But he is wearing old slippers

And was drowsing in his whiskers.
This is absurd. This is no time
For Victorian gentlemen.

This is the future, century
Of electric, self-driving cars,
Boring, permanent space stations,

Wars fought with drones and satellites,
Continental-sized telescopes,
Robots past the solar system,

Age of machines to think for him,
Of commodified attention,
Glowing screens fishing for eyeballs,

Age in which men with beards or not
Aren’t the model type of humans,
And pipes are known to burn poison,

Age that’s never not discussing
The ways in which Utopia
Is actually Armageddon.

Yet here he is, in his slippers,
Old as an old Victorian,
Drowsing again in his whiskers.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Portrait Blended into Water

 I could just stop. He could not.

Some moments, like Bernard Lycett-Kean’s pool
Water, he felt furred, shirred, made a witless
Patchwork of a level plane. Tendencies

He’d always had toward uncertainty
Were magnified as he swam towards them,
Magnified and fractured into small gems

Of equally dangerous decisions
About which his thoughts could only pretend
To him that he might make the correct choice.

The waves of a bright body of water
Had often reminded him of a board
On which ineffable Go masters played

A game too simple in its rules for them
To ever fully understand, thus grand.
He would stand, looking out over small waves,

Unsteady as always, feeling sanguine,
Knowing he was about to lose this game
By making more or less the same mistakes

He had made in all his previous games,
Which had brought him to this moment staring
Into this fresh set of dissembling days.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Purple Martin

In a land long obsessed
With small variations
In surface skin colors,

Martin was a new one—
Orphan in a basket
With a note of his name

Left by the highway side,
Brought in by state troopers,
Skin such pale lavender,

The hospital sent him
Straight into ICU.
Later, they regretted

Not getting genetics
Sampled and decoded
From him, but at the time

They were relieved enough
He was healthy and found
Foster parents quickly.

By the time he was ten
He’d been in a few homes.
An evangelical

Family with a dozen
Mostly adopted kids
Already took him in

And adopted him then.
They liked to joke his shade
Completed their palette.

They were awkward like that.
When adolescence hit
Martin at twelve, he changed

From a bright twiggy boy
With a slightly odd tinge
To a tall, purple youth,

With stubble on his chin
And swagger in his walk
And then trouble found him.

Summary: he flunked out,
Got drunk, got back in twice,
Dropped out again, spent time

In a holding cell, but
Never hard time, crashed bikes,
One car, married, married,

Married again, divorced,
Was widowed, had some kids
Not his own, lost his own,

Found one, but not purple
Like him, no one like him,
Let’s see, kidney disease,

Diabetes, back pains,
Some travel, some girlfriends,
Some jobs, no real career,

People always asking
Him about his strange skin,
Who did he belong to,

What named group was he in?
Was his skin dark for them?
Was his skin weirdly bright?

What was it with his skin?
He did some art, went broke,
Did some more, had trouble

More and more with his heart,
Then a coma, and then
Cremated, with his skin.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

First Grade Rehearsal

Two to a desk, one chair each,
A dozen students, the girls
In skirts or dresses, barrettes

In their hair, the boys in slacks
And, mostly, button-up shirts,
The tables paired, three rows deep.

Their teacher had bouffant hair
And wore a dark, knee-length dress.
They practiced spelling her name.

At recess in the courtyard,
They teased the kindergarteners
For being younger than them—

You kindergarten baby!
You stick your head in gravy!
Wash it out with bubblegum
And send it to the Navy!

The nonsense part was nothing.
The brutal word was baby.
One first grader confided

To another she was glad
She didn’t come to this school
To go to kindergarten.

Then she chanted with the rest
To prove that she was with them.
Then they went back to their desks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Origin Story Origin

Interfering waves of scale-free
Behavioral correlations
Remind one of calligraphy,

If calligraphy kept melting
While being brushed into pale air—
Or of snows in shifting winds,

If each flake hid an agent
Responding to its neighbors.
The first story ever told

By low hearth coals, or whispered
In another stalker’s ear
Waiting for the prey to drop,

Or in a children’s circle
In the grass while adults ranged,
Rose from interfering waves,

Like the geometric clouds
Of starling murmurations,
If all starlings’ wings were words.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Still Resolute

He was too fat. His girlfriend
And her parents were concerned.
He wasn’t very mobile,

So they thought of low-stress ways
To get him to exercise.
For his birthday they gave him

A croquet set, which he found
Disappointing. He got out
Of playing when a storm front

Ahead of a hurricane
Rolled into Alabama,
Turning trees to head-bangers.

He’d just started a new job.
He was feeling overwhelmed.
He sat at his girlfriend’s house

That afternoon, not moving,
Too close to a large window,
Watching the storm in the trees,

That peculiar yellowish,
Grey-green cast to the daylight
As branches snapped back and forth,

And he thought of an old friend
Who might already have died.
He resolved he wouldn’t try

Anymore, he would just be,
And he was calm in the storm,
Behind his window at least.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Self Portrait in an Empty Chair

Awareness arranges its robes,
Having just come in off the street,
Covered in nets of dust to sit

For its portrait. Now where’s it gone?
Ah, it’s staring out the window.
Come back here, awareness, come back.

You must sit still to see yourself.
No one else can really see you,
And this restlessness doesn’t help.

What are you doing? Self-assured,
Today? Vulnerable? Wincing?
Concealing a skeptical grin?

Is that a minutely quirked brow?
We can’t even see what you mean,
And we’re nothing but what you mean.

Saturday, May 7, 2022


He liked to watch his shadow die
Out on the afternoon lawn,
The way the sun would cut him out
Then let him blend with the lawn.

It showed him what a shadow was
And what he was to the light—
The carving of an obstacle
To light from a lesser light.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Forever and Ever

The young woman in straw hat,
Sleeveless white blouse, red print skirt
That reached her sandaled ankles,

Plus bright patchwork shoulder-bag
Led two small girls by the hand
Through the summer afternoon

Along a village side-street
In a very quiet town
Enjoying a sunny week

In a complacent era,
At least for that neighborhood.
She was walking one girl home.

The other was her daughter.
They had been playing dress-up
In an attic of costumes

And outrageous thrift-store hats
Belonging to the woman’s
Elderly neighbor, a friend,

But, for now, the girls were back
Into their own summer frocks,
Bare-headed and bare-footed,

And the trio walked and talked
About silly clothes and hats
Through shadows and warm sunlight

In a kind of perfection
Only two of them today
Claim to vaguely remember.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Was This a Lion

Someone tells the little boy
With his left leg in traction
After rodding surgery

That March came in like a lamb
This morning, which means it will
Go out like a lion. Smile.

The boy nods, seriously.
He is a bright little boy.
He can read already. Well.

There’s no window in his room.
No one explains the proverb.
They said it was a nice day.

March came in like a lamb. March
Will go out like a lion.
Silently, he ponders this.

That lamb part he understands.
Woolly little clouds like lambs.
What’s the sky as a lion?

Roaring. Lions roar. Windy.
He’s not sure how long March is,
Exactly. Not exactly

Sure how long he’s been healing.
Surgery made things misty.
Lambs or lions aren’t misty.

He will watch. He vows he’ll watch,
Even without a window.
He’ll ask, was this a lion?

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

One Sunny Afternoon One September

She was with her best gay friend,
And not her husband, the day
She had the courage to take

The early pregnancy test.
She was sure she would be wrong.
She wanted simple comfort

When it came back negative.
Then it came back positive,
And she was elated, and

She felt terrible, given
Her friend was the first to know
And not her spouse, the father,

The man she had just married
So swiftly, three months ago,
In part since he was eager,

Unlike her ex, to have kids,
And in part since her sister,
Her only younger sister,

Had a husband and toddler,
Making her, as she confessed
Freely, envious. Now what?

She flew home from Chicago,
Having finished her work trip,
And told her husband after

He got back from his commute
That afternoon. Then she cried
And said, I wish you’d been there.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Fiction Is a Foreign Country for the World

Why is it you find romantic
The mute who can hear but can’t speak
But seem troubled by characters
Who can vocalize but can’t hear?

In fiction, the middle ground’s held,
Occasionally, by signing
Characters who can’t hear but stay
Demurely quiet all the time.

Outside of fiction, non-hearing
People make all kinds of noises,
And hearing people simply mute
Are nearly never encountered,

Although, of course, such lives are lived
In the normal distribution,
Which is ordinary, boring.
Fiction’s more to do with wishes.

Moons in tales show crescent or full.
Like faith, a family member,
Fiction solemnly claims the truth
Is greater than mere, common facts,

Which conveniently excuses
Wishes’ need to subvert some facts
To arrive at wish fulfillment.
And what wishes are sequestered

In sweet fictions of hearing mutes?
You will be listened to. You will
Be understood. You will not be
Interrupted by rude noises.

You won’t have to work to be clear.
The world understands you, hears you
Every time you weep, curse, or pray.
Your God is not deaf, only mute,

Only struggling to signal you
With every omen in the sky—
Gods, mutes, faiths, and fate, their cousin,
From your foreign lands of fictions.

Monday, May 2, 2022

All Consuming

The motel in the desert
Probably looked scruffier
By daylight, but at twilight,

It glowed lunar, lavender
White, the only moon that night.
The traveller who checked in,

On Thanksgiving, of all dates,
And alone, and not between
Home and visiting some feast,

Had come for the moonless night,
For the meteor showers
Expected to peak by dawn.

He took his green plastic key
And went to his room and napped.
At midnight, he rose and went,

Driving his car a short way
Up the empty road behind
The mushroom of the motel,

To get shut of any light.
He parked in sandy gravel,
Spread a blanket on the hood,

And lay on it, bundled up.
He was thirty-nine years old
And only once in his life

Had seen meteor showers,
As a teenager who went
Out in the dark and the snow

One night with a science class
For the chance to lie beside
The classmate he longed to touch.

Had he seen shooting stars then?
Yes, but not really. Tonight,
He wanted to really see.

It got cold. It got colder.
At one point, the meteors
Were so frequent, he lost count.

They were bright, sometimes startling,
But what got him was silence.
The desert wind made its sounds,

But the needles burned and burst
In silent ghosts of fireworks.
He admitted to himself

That, as a show, they weren’t much.
Over the next score of years,
Once he’d moved to the desert,

He saw meteors often.
There were a few every night.
But that silence. Their silence.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

You’ll Try Everything Eventually

In March of 2022,
Two old men who’d lived their whole lives
With the threat of nuclear war,
A war that hadn’t happened yet,
Although it could at any time,
Sat discussing apocalypse
As if it could be optional,
And not forever threatening.

One said it must be avoided,
Even at the terrible cost
Of endless, blood-soaked proxy wars,
Even letting brutes use the threat
Of annihilation to shield
Wars of criminal aggression.
Nothing’s worth starting World War III!
The other old man disagreed.

We should push them back, push them back.
And if they start it, we’ll end them.
How long we’re gonna be bullied
By every madman with the Bomb?
Overhearing this, you shuddered,
Since it hit you that the answer
To his rhetorical question
Was: until some threat’s carried out.