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Whirligig

“Desire is a moment with no way out”

            –Anne Carson

I parse each moment’s possibility

Pretending the past can be reconciled

With present desires. Memory wears me

Like a palm stone smoothed from idle handling,

Until no difference exists between 

Me and what I have perceived to be me.

The unstable threads interlace with all

The lies, the truth, the last dry sip of gin.

The metaphor for myself unravels:

The little that was left unsaid is said,

And the air sparkles with embarrassment.

I have built constructs out of Tinker Toys,

Vast whirligigs of simplistic ideas

To clack and flail in an ignorant wind.

(December 6, 2018)

Archeology of the Present

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like so many broken bones

scattered on a shaman’s floor

wait to be puzzled back

into our imaginations

these are the answers

I do not know as these

are the questions I am

too frightened to ask

 

the fragments are small and soft

the edges vague indeterminate

how they are to be returned

whole waits troubled for night

as each day’s tenuous relation

struggles to piece the past entire

(November 21, 2018)

Too Many Conversations to Slough Off

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After the teacher conference

spent listening to others

speak of techniques

to hold their students

locked around an idea

of reading and writing

with little actual reading

or writing of consequence,

 

I am reminded of a Greek

statue of a wrestler,

who stands silent

scraping sweat and

filth from his arm,

his day done.

 

(November 11, 2018)

Obsessive Voice

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He picks up a rock,

He puts it down.

 

He picks up a rock,

He puts it down.

 

He tells himself:

Don’t pick it up;

 

He picks up the rock,

He puts it down.

 

He tells himself

He is stupid—

 

He tells himself

Not to say such things.

 

He tells himself

He is stupid

 

For saying such things,

Then says them again.

 

He tells himself

Don’t pick it up.

 

He picks up the rock,

And puts it down.

 

(October 15, 2018)

 

 

 

 

Snapshot

source

 

As laconic waves lap the shore,

Children’s laughter catches the breeze;

And seagulls’ cries pierce the sky.

 

In the moment before it happens,

No one notices the clouds overhead

Casting shadows on the ground.

 

Recently, I saw an old photograph—

A typical summer beach scene:

Two young blonde women lean over

 

A railing in modest bathing suits.

They look out over the crowded beach

Toward the soft clouds on the horizon.

 

Everyone seems happy. Everyone

Exists in the moment, oblivious

To the candid moment they are in.

 

The caption reads: Germany, 1936.

It could have been any day;

It could have been today.

 

 

*(historical note: Dachau opened in March, 1933)

 

 

(October 15, 2018)

Ballistics

volleyball-serving

The young girl thinks

constantly of the proper

manner to serve

a volleyball true.

 

The smack-smack

of leather against

the polished wood floor

dominates and supersedes

 

the hard-lined proofs

of geometry; the arc

and vector, with

the slightest bump,

 

returns her to the game’s

concrete abstractions.

 

(September 19, 2018)

Misaligned

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She moves the block to the right

slightly, turning its axis

parallel to the table’s edge.

It is now as she imagined,

arranged in her mind’s symmetry,

aligned with the larger world.

Life would be easier if only

every one would take care

of everything instead of her.

But they don’t. So she does

what she can to help

put things in their places.

Yet the world she desires

rarely mimics the world

she lives within,

and the difference grows

as roots in a forest

askew to any explanation.

 

(September 7, 2018)