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Lines Written in a Pandemic a Few Days After the Summer Solstice

from a work in progress: “Process, Not a Journey” (67)

our earth wobbles its way

about the sun like a drunk

unsure of her footing

moves again

toward the bar

*

day by day minute by minute

plods toward darkness

for the next six months

each day grows darker

by one minute

*

not quite disturbing

the dullard doves

who coo complacently

on the fence

cardinals and jays

fussing constantly

slip after each other

between tree branches

I watch and listen

to this dance

for hours

and can do nothing

*

as it was in the beginning

world without end

(June 23, 2020)

Today’s Lesson

“These fragments I have shored against my ruins”

—T.S.Eliot

my students work over the abstract

idea of redemption in three stories

as a preparation for the wasteland

which we will read for the next class

one thousand miles away students

hide as their classmates are killed

and we are told there is nothing

nothing we can do except pray

prayers are useless balms for the dead

and pale recompense for the living

who must clean blood from walls

and mix memory into the earth

devoid of hope near an open door

we are in a hell we have created

(February 14, 2018)

I wrote this two years ago on the day of the Parkland massacre. I think about my students every time there is another school shooting. And there always seems to be another shooting. And still nothing is done. This poem was published by Shantih Journal.

Beneath an Unrelenting Sun

“knowing less than drugged beasts”

–Ezra Pound, Canto XLVII

As we cower

beneath an array of bullets,

there is no forgiveness

for not knowing

the shades within shades

of evil. Yet, in this land

without shade, neither knowing

nothing, nor how to sail, nor

to have a sea to set forth upon,

even if a boat were here

in this desolate land

of sated men, and drugged beasts:

knowing nothing is cherished

as a privileged pleasure;

and so, I raise my voice

without delay, and sing

as if I could sow with my voice

in the cracked earth

some salvation from the sun.

(August 8, 2019)

Things I would Not Wish on Anyone

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after Lucille Clifton

 

I wish them disdain

I wish them questions

in a new town

that does not speak their language

 

I wish them to lose

their beloved stuffed bear

because the dogs can smell

the Rio Grande

 

Later let them learn humility

as the man’s arrogance

drips condescension

like venom

 

Let them think they don’t belong

Let them be turned away

 

(July 11, 2018)

onward into the day

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“Love is the root of everything….Love, or the lack of it.”

— Fred Rogers 

 

like glass resonant in trembled anger

the fear is outrageous and constant

one horrific event erases the next

in an infinite succession of bomb blasts

bludgeoning attention to a bloody slurry

only the noise of the moment matters

and it does not matter even then

but only in the silence it creates in you

the silence of the possibility of dissent

so one must learn to hear without

hearing deafly to see again without

seeing blindly to go with open trust

across the shattered shards of glass

onward into the darkening night

 

(June 23, 2018)

My Son Explains My Poetry to Me

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One does not want to find

the body on the floor,

bits of brain and blood flecked

in patterns on the walls.

 

After decades scribbling

these poems to the page,

reading hundreds if not

thousands of others ,

 

apparently, I just needed you.

So, please, tell me, my child,

what my poetry means

to an ignorance like mine.

 

Keeping in mind, the reader

finds what he wants to find.

 

(May 16, 2018)