Scurry here and there at times
nibble a root, a stem, a vine
crawl up in the shiny gears
and break a machine that worked for years –
some dangerous rake, some loathsome plow
take it as a home for now
remembering all the older mice
who fought the machine and paid the price.
So it must not be happening, anywhere,
no babies are born and discarded,
metric tons of methamphetamine are used by none;
nobody is shot, nobody is suffering,
nobody is fearing a hard choice,
everyone is comfortable,
everyone is cruel and bland and
bored and righteous,
it must be this way,
That was only a dream of comfort,
awaken to this drear reality
put on a pot of coffee, or
throw an egg in a skillet –
drink from a stream, if you must,
whatever it takes
to fall back in love with the dream.
in the age of nuclear warheads
and supersonic jets,
of ninety-round belts of 5.56
and bespoke viruses,
even now, as through all of time,
a flint-tipped spear can kill
Just a game of chance and touch,
hollow the tower. Bottom to top.
No matter which side pulls the last piece –
in the end,
only rubble remains.
They like their deaths slowly
they love to linger
and long for better days
from their engirdling beds,
smiling and hurting.
The streetlights blare and
strangers are illuminated,
faces just like ours,
open sometimes and now closed –
all glances, never meeting
like passerby trying not to stare at an accident
afraid of mangled meat and steel in every
afraid of what they might recall later.
How many days are passed unremarkably
in Rental Beige
or Institution Green?
How many lifetimes tick away
in the passage of a workweek-
what sum of flesh and bone
artery, vein, cartilage,
marrow and brain,
strips of flannel and coverall
are pulped in the pressing
of one shining golden coin?
And how can anyone still covet
a speck of gold
when submerged in such depths of gore?
A layman learns of a coal train derailment,
a factory fire, a chicken crop culled,
and sees conspiracy, sees the falling of
stars and countries;
an insurance adjuster sees payouts and premiums
and actuarial fate.
Pay attention to the chisel
light and delicate here
a lovely pattern over the chest,
but remember you will not have
eternity to decorate, remember
that some day you will abandon all works
and they will be judged,
good or ill, by
judge and jury or
awards show committee;
but do not work feverishly or
you’ll crack it to the core, no,
work steadily, work gently,
smooth the defects as you find them
that when you walk away
you have done enough.