On Silent Days

You may have heard one silence
but you have not heard them all,
you may have heard the nothing of a peak
or the nothing of a valley,
the failure of a headphone or
the absence of birds,
you may have heard one silence but
you were not really listening,
inward-focused, intent and callous,
on the silence within your heart.

To Transcend The Ground We Pray Upon

Alone, in the upper air
with crowd below in transfixed stare
a silvered spear of sleeksome power
(so loud when first it shed the tower!)
crept the cumulonimbus highs
and was swallowed by the skies.

Who knows what thoughts were just then thunk
by astronauts, both deaf and drunk
supping, sipping on torment –
the lash and lager of such ascent .

Were they vulgar – were they base –
the first human thoughts in outer space?
Surely no history would repeat
that our first prayer had been “retreat!”,
or merely the moans and muffled mutters
of a heart that weakly sputters
grasping at means to end the climb,
craving a fall,
complete,
sublime.

Hoard

desks with three legs and
mounds of empty notebooks,
pens with rusted nibs and
clay hardened in the slab;
the piano works, too, sort of,
a few strings missing
the white keys stripped;
and all the plastic bags or
cardboard boxes you could need,
and we’ve skillet-lids by dozens,
though the pots and pans are
dinged and dented, we’ve
learned the truths of treasure and have
followed the precepts of glorious greed,
we have everything we need,
and riches, beyond.

in deeper earth

farther down, where
most can’t reach,
are hollows – caves, caverns,
full of glittering jewels and
natural poisons,
reflecting lakes and
the bulbous, billowing limestone-
Giant’s Toe,
Titania’s Veil,
things glimpsed in shade and flicker and
named for gods, monsters,
the deep things inside men ripped out
and left,
hidden in the darkness.

them who eat scraps

we sit in streets when
the days are hot, we feel
each pulse of the world and see
slick kids in their capsuled-cars
speed by,
all grins and chill,
and us in the heat,
pooling on the sidewalks,
piles of flesh, puddles of blood,
unnoticed
and melting further

Made to be broken

everywhere, everyday,
the mills whirr and tiny hands
dab and daub with leadened paints,
cheapening touches
on cardboard – softwood – inexpert alloys
shaped by hunger and fear, not pride nor
craftsmanship.
I see regard for naught but haste;
not an admonition, that saying,
“haste makes waste”, no,
but a holy precept:
the ideal operation of all things –
cheap; replaceable;
numberless;
and in all things – fast.
and so the great minds are at work, toiling,
on medicines that do not cure and
homes that collapse before resale;
and so we strain towards Utopia,
a Utopia made to be broken.

did you see

did you see them running, running,
did you see? did you see them
black with blood, did you
see anyone stop to help, did you see them
motionless in roadways, screaming on sidewalks,
did you see them, mouths open and teeth chipped to pieces,
did you see those who did this,
did you see their shiny clubs, their
bright and favored flags,
did you see the smirks they let slip,
did you see?
did you see?

Flesh Imitating Steel

Flesh has its rhythm
in constant self-repair;
the rest from labor enables greater labor,
and muscle builds stronger when strained, so
why must we pretend
to be as steel; unwavering, unfeeling,
ignoring the needs of flesh
(to eat,
to slumber –
to love)
in favor of steel-bound schedule,
approaching our ultimate tensile point,
waiting to twist, to groan and
shatter?
cast away the mimicry,
do not conform with an inhumane system –
resume the dance of exhaustion and repair,
do not live as steel.

Forgetting the Names of Flowers

Lilacs, lilies, roses, still –
marigolds and dandelions and
small seeds, small heads
rising from the fetal position;
pale limbs poking through, hands poised
to claw the surface;
what are these things,
what purpose did they have, what
mastery did we seek over them by
lash and flick of tongue,
what did we drive them towards
when we murmured their names,
their names, lost now in winter –
are they found in these sturdy limbs?
Are there names to view, names to eat?
syllables quivering in the wind, and
names that bring in butterflies?

it takes a village

some children don’t grow up, they only grow older,
and older, and perceive themselves as wiser,
without shedding their childish thoughts,
without putting away their childish things,
they look at others
and believe they know how these others think of them,
and think of the world,
without asking – or without asking correctly, these
children draw their conclusions, their inflexible philosophies,
ink spilled upon pages in places where
the moon dwells close to Manhattan;
they think themselves special from their peers –
they think themselves powerful when others are polite,
offering glad words at their scribbles, “ah,
beautiful work, a beautiful piece, we’ll go
hang this on the fridge” and
some children don’t grow up,
they may have mortgages and may
collect dividends, they may give orders and may
be called sir, but they are still just children,
clumsily stuffing their fingers toward light sockets,
being shooed or corralled at the last moment
and, beaming, effervescent,
celebrate their triumphs.