Good Fences

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There is nothing here, she says

holding out her heart.

 

He demurs in silence and

refuses to speak his part.

 

No matter, she improvises,

each stone’s cut smooth…

 

…and takes its place, he smiles,

like fate into its groove.

 

There are no walls, she says,

when nothing’s to divide.

 

The walls are real, he says,

everyone has something to hide.

 

Again, she offers her heart;

and, he has forgotten his part

 

(October 21, 2018)

afterwards

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She picked up his bones

scattered in the yard,

and took them into the house.

 

Her workshop was cluttered;

so she cleaned off a spot, and

orderly stacked them up.

 

Days went by, then weeks,

and finally years. The bones

collected dust like mementos.

 

One day, stumped, she looked

up from her work, and saw

the neatly stacked dry bones.

 

She laughed as she remembered

him, then went to work:

drilling, weaving, balancing.

 

She sang as she worked, happy

at last to be creating so freely

from his humble remains.

 

Finished, she took what she had

made from him, and hung

it from an old oak tree.

 

It danced a hollow dance,

clattering as the bones clacked

together with every wind.

 

In the evenings she would sit,

and sip a glass of wine, happier

than she had ever been with him.

 

(August 7, 2018)

No One Watches the Train Fall from the Broken Bridge

 

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His problem has nothing to do with the train which travels steadily through the night. Everyone is content, if not happy, on the train, reading opinions they already agree with, drinking champagne, eating delicacies imported from foreign countries. They pretend they do not like the food, but wish they could eat as well at home.  All of the people on the train are facing the same direction, which gives them all a strange comfort.  A few of them look out the windows, but it is too dark to see the trees in the forest. It all follows along so logically, like a math problem in high school where rats scuttle east over well-polished wing-tips at a variable rate of three feet per second. They stop randomly to nibble on discarded bread crumbs dropped with nonchalance by the passengers on the train. Meanwhile the train travels south at a consistent seventy-three miles per hour directly toward the crumbled bridge which once traversed a chasm one thousand feet deep and a mile wide. There is no question at the end that one must answer. However, there is an answer; there is always an answer. No one watches the train fall from the broken bridge. No one hears the explosions as it crashes into the rocks below, or the last cries for help of those who are momentarily still alive.  On a trail nearby the train tracks, a monk moves through the dark as if he has been here before, thinking vaguely of other things. He pauses, peers into the dark, then wanders off along his way. The monk’s tangentially wandering mind is not enough to mark the train’s passing beyond the silence which lingers in the mountains for several hours after the sun has risen again.

 

(July 6, 2018)

A Confession Must be Heard

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Much of what I write these days

sounds like a rote confession;

yet, I am no savior, even to myself.

So to hear the nuance thicken

around a verb in my own ear,

I must speak a native tongue;

and like all true stories I tell,

I shape myself to a form

which best suits my desires.

I collect what is at hand,

charting all my little failures

as profound, as if the paucity

of my life could ever be enough

to transcend these humble clichés.

 

(May 31, 2108)

Self-flagellation

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The familiar voice, a constant whip, rips

Bits of metaphorical flesh to fleck

The truculent air like a moist firework.

If one listens— the recriminations

Claw, maul, snag and cut to reshape the past;

The pressure provides us old forms to drape

Like silk shrouds upon the dead and dying.

 

I hear the fears of my world, the cold doubt

Niggling each broken phrase, like a dry catch

At the back of the throat. I do not know

What to believe, or which patch can still fix

The tattered fabrications, or which will

Transform into the next tale to be told

Before the voice begins to speak again.

 

(December 29, 2017)

Drawl

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A time to speak up

 

Think of it

Not

As punctuation,

But rather

Dialect, decorated

By accented diacritical marks.

 

If I speak in such

A manner that’s averse

To the way your words wander,

Perhaps you should listen

To how variations

Play across our story:

 

Resistance exists

Along the blade

Of consonant’s hiss and click.

As the oldest god

Has whispered before:

The word changes the world.

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(December 20, 2017)