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with options of desire and defeat

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (8)

I don’t want

to be a salmon struggling

upstream to spawn and die

exhausted and decayed

nor

to be swept downstream

with broken branches and silt

into a churning sea

I want to be

a catfish

calm and content

deep within a silent pool

(January 12, 2020)

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Mistranslations

My past imperfections intercede

to lay claim to what I can see.

The air between thickens in time

like delirious veils in the wind.

Each word she spoke I heard

as if her fingers on my arm

traced a secret in braille

I was too blind to read.

*

Now too tired to transform time,

I watch myself as if dead;

the chill pushes through my flesh,

like a rat gnawing in the wall.

Time’s translations fill my silence

with the words neither of us spoke.

(December, 20, 2019)

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The FrogPrince Without Standing

He sat by his pond content

with the depth of his longing.

Then one day, she dropped in

laughing her way into his dream.

He thought he heard a splash,

and a glimmer near the bottom.

She played along the pond’s edge,

waiting for what he might bring.

When he returned to the surface,

the forest was dark and she was gone.

The castle was so far away—

and it was just a toy after all.

He sat by his pond discontented

with the depth of his longing.

(November 4, 2019)

An Early Spring Day in Paris, 1984

The Seine flows

endlessly

around us.

We sit on the tip

of the Ile de la Cite

as if on a boat’s bow,

sailing up the river.

The sun shines,

like a promise,

after days of cold rain.

We drink a decent Bordeaux,

eat fresh pate smeared

across chunks of ubiquitous baguette.

Notre Dame looms

darkly behind

in its medieval bulk.

We are in love, as we

are still forty years later.

Nearby,

above a former morgue,

is a memorial

to the two hundred thousand martyrs

handed over to the Nazis by the Vichy

for deportation to the camps

forty years before we sat happily

oblivious to all but the beauty

of that one Parisian afternoon.

(September 19, 2019)