Thursday, March 31, 2011
Letter to His Daughter
By Philip Dacey
When the light fails, say
this is the time for the light to fail,
the time I expected, and wrap yourself
in the darkness, which has fur
inside it and hums old animal tunes.
I won't be there, but I will.
A room will be there, and water
from a tap, and street sounds
that echo the words two stars
exchanged long years ago:
one star said, Fay, and the other nodded
and said, Fay, back. These stars knew,
and have been trying ever since to tell
the world what they knew. Remember
you've got a purpose. The stars need you
to make them come true.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
By Judith Barrington
A word is elegy to what it signifies -
The thinking, old and new, is still about loss-
so many pages filled with decaying Edens:
places where poets, lovers, thoughtful people,
made the old mistake of going back:
Tintern Abbey, blousy with candy wrappers;
Fern Hill faded from carefree green to mud;
New Brunswick woods, crossed by nocturnal buses,
but never bringing forth from scratchy shadows
that perfect, ambling moose, high as a church-
Bishop’s sad-faced harbinger of joy.
Yet even knowing this, I enter the gash
in the chalky hills, try to rekindle the past
with steps that slide on trampled, grubby grass
and search again for my body’s imprint, stretched
deep in daisies, purple clover holding
the shape of someone young, someone flat
on her back, gazing past small brown bees,
the sky smudged with wavering vapor trails
of planes headed south where I always wanted to go.
The word is honeysuckle; the life was sweet.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Boston’s Great Molasses Flood, 1919
By Nancy Scott
On January 15th, it wasn’t snow that kept schools closed,
but rivets popping like machine-gun fire, a steel tank bursting,
two million gallons of molten molasses spurting into the air.
First a dark rumble, then a roar, as the North End
turned into a wet, brown hell. Autos and wagons mired,
freight cars crushed, entire buildings crumbled like pasteboard.
The Great War was done; no need to turn molasses
into alcohol for ammunition, but Purity Distilling
demanded one last batch before the end.
Twenty-two dead, horses drowned, hundreds injured.
Clean-up crews and rescuers, knee-deep in makings of rum,
listened as church bells pealed in Prohibition.
Throughout the city, for decades afterwards, they say
you could smell the sweet aroma, and on certain buildings,
if you looked closely, the high water mark left by molasses.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
By Geoffrey Paul Gordon
Why not speak out
among the silently praying?
Consider the futility of quiet.
This is my thought:
That healing is active,
This is my belief:
That the unspoken is unknown,
This is my hope:
That knowledge is strength.
I remember lives taken,
Lives risked and lost,
Tears shed unashamedly,
The surviving world in an embrace
Like at the end of a long slow dance;
The dancers tired and leaning
On each other for support,
The musicians waiting to pack up,
The dancers clinging and closing their eyes, exhausted,
But wishing for just one more song.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
By Julianna McCarthy
Let me tell you about the dance band
at the shore, summer nights when I was just
old enough to feel the heartache in a trumpet solo,
the plea in a smoky saxophone riff.
Young girl lonely I would swim
out beyond the drop-off to lie on the raft,
wavelets lapping against planks still
warm under my back, to listen
to the baritone crooning, “Always”
and longing, longing to keep it all; keep
the night, keep the music, keep the band from going home.
Friday, March 25, 2011
By Kristopher Saknussemm
You know what I miss most?
Watching you try to fold maps.
And the way you always waited
until you were in the car
to spray on your perfume.
Do you still drive out through
the oil derricks when you need
time to think? Can you still drive?
My father says he can, and he's been
dead as long as you.
And I miss the smell of your skin
when you got hot dancing—
sitting in those cane chairs
listening to that stupid parrot.
My old man comes back at night
to drink Old Crow with me.
Old man, old crow. Hah. He knows.
Come back and smell like limes
and White Shoulders perfume and we'll drink
Tanqueray and ice. Come back to me
and we'll count mirages all the way
to Mazatlan. Please. I have one arm
out the window—and one hand on the wheel.
I'm about to cross the border
in a haunted car,
with three arrests, no convictions,
and nothing to declare.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Soul Bone
By Susan Wood
Once I said I didn't have a spiritual bone
in my body and meant by that
I didn't want to think of death,
as though any bone in us
could escape it. Maybe
I was afraid of what I couldn't know
for certain, a thud like the slamming
of a coffin lid, as final and inexplicable
as that. What was the soul anyway,
I wondered, but a homonym for loneliness?
Now, in late middle age, or more, I like to imagine it,
the spirit, the soul bone, as though it were hidden
somewhere inside my body, white as a tooth
that falls from a child's mouth, a dove,
the cloud it can fly through. Like bones,
it persists. Little knot of self, stubborn
as wildflowers in a Chilmark field in autumn,
the white ones they call boneset, for healing,
or the others, pearly everlasting.
The rabbis of the Midrash believed in the bone
and called it the luz, just like the Spanish word
for light, the size of a chickpea or an almond,
depending on which rabbi was telling the story,
found, they said, at the top of the spine or the base,
depending. No one's ever seen it, of course,
but sometimes at night I imagine I can feel it,
shining its light through my body, the bone
luminous, glowing in the dark. Sometimes,
if you listen, you might even hear that light
deep inside me, humming its brave little song.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
By Alicia Suskin Astriker
The puzzled ones, the Americans, go through their lives
Buying what they are told to buy,
Pursuing their love affairs with the automobile,
Baseball and football, romance and beauty,
Enthusiastic as trained seals, going into debt, struggling—
True believers in liberty, and also security,
And of course sex—cheating on each other
For the most part only a little, mostly avoiding violence
Except at a vast blue distance, as between bombsight and earth,
Or on the violent screen, which they adore.
Those who are not Americans think Americans are happy
Because they are so filthy rich, but not so.
They are mostly puzzled and at a loss
As if someone pulled the floor out from under them,
They'd like to believe in God, or something, and they do try.
You can see it in their white faces at the supermarket and the gas station
—Not the immigrant faces, they know what they want,
Not the blacks, whose faces are hurt and proud—
The white faces, lipsticked, shaven, we do try
To keep smiling, for when we're smiling, the whole world
Smiles with us, but we feel we've lost
That loving feeling. Clouds ride by above us,
Rivers flow, toilets work, traffic lights work, barring floods, fires
And earthquakes, houses and streets appear stable
So what is it, this moon-shaped blankness?
What the hell is it? America is perplexed.
We would fix it if we knew what was broken.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The Flight or the Seed
By Jennifer Zaslow
My great grandmother fled through Russia following the lines she kept
on a map she drew in her palm
and when sweat and salt and heavy things
washed them away
she followed the lifeline that stretched
from the base of her wrist
to between the high peaks of her index finger and thumb
she showed her brother, my great Uncle Mendel
pointing to her palm
here’s the river she said that means we’re getting closer
and he said but see how long our journey is?
she brought three things
the first was Mendel
who I imagine like the Byzantine Christ child
ancient face, baby’s body
the second was the samovar
that my mother fought and clawed for when we divided up the will
and the third was a child inside her
who would grow to be my grandfather
through the walls of his womb, my grandfather heard the musical drawlings of a Southern Russian
Iosif Dzhugashvili, who had changed his name to Stalin
because he hated his accent
and wanted it to sound like steel breaking bodies
in iron fists
how could I stay here she asked herself
aware of her organic insides, her fleshy body that she loved so much
she could not stay for a man of metal and promises
and whispering the Tefilat Haderech, the Traveler’s Prayer
she and Mendel flew with bodies that grew wings
when she came to Brooklyn, they called her Goldie
and she gave birth to a son who had a son who had a son
as though they’d always existed inside each other
like a Russian doll
and had traveled all that way just for the joy of existing
a few years after she had forgotten how to speak
and a few days before I was born
she held her lined hand
to my mothers belly
to show me the way out
Monday, March 21, 2011
Everything is interesting
if you’re of a mind to see it
in that light. Claude Monet
probably understood this. The stoners
back in high school definitely
understood that everything is intoxicatingly
interesting if you’re of a mind
to see it in that light. My grandmother
in the emergency room
surrounded by doctors and nurses and children
and grandchildren, was of a mind to see
the pulse-oximeter on her left index finger
as the most interesting thing in the room,
more interesting than anything else in recent
memory, which was mostly gone
by then anyway. She cocked
her head like a bird or philosopher
contemplating a crumb
on God’s table under the light, that light,
and said to her children and her children’s children
and all of the strangers working together
to keep her from dying: "What
is the name of this thing? It’s so interesting.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before."
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Without Priests or Robes
I remember a time when
Mama moved the furniture
to give us more room
as Dick Rodgers, Fritz Willfarht
and the rest of the players
would come in on WLUK
TV Station out of Green Bay
at 10:00 on Sunday mornings
while other kids were sitting in cars,
mothers slicking back hair with spit,
straightening collars, and scolding them
to stand up straight as they walked to their pews.
Mama cranked the volume on the TV
and with hands together, chins up,
shoulders locked, right foot back,
back together back, counting
we would polka all our cares away
and before Tuba Dan
put down his bouncing tuba,
without priests or robes,
without altars or smoke,
all my sins were forgiven.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Getting in Touch with Mother
Jan Epton Seale
With no snappy top, spigot, or pump,
her Jergens bottle, wide-mouthed, glass-hipped,
might be too generous at her tip and shake,
give her far more lotion than she
could possibly be beautiful in,
even counting neck and elbows.
She’d bid me, stuck in the doorway,
”Come. Give me your hands.”
I’d spring forward, lay palms to hers,
thrilled at this invitation to high fives.
Then she’d coat me with her excess,
first slathering on the glamour milk,
now feeling of my hands like fine fabrics,
now massaging, squeezing,
me knowing to stay utterly limp,
and finally, trolling each finger
as my giggles rose no-holds-barred
from this daring grown-up wetness.
Our lovely handwrestling complete,
and fresh out of her emergency,
all almond-scented and smooth
I’d stand alone again.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
When Women Went Downtown
The city was brick and stone in the time
before glass and steel. In those days
the city was streets of women.
They climbed down from buses
in seal skin, navy straw hats stuck with pearl drop pins,
their double-knotted Red Cross shoes,
clutching black cowhide purses, leading the children.
They lunched in tea rooms
on chicken-a-la-king and quartered sandwiches
but never wine--and never with men.
Rising in the smoky air,
their voices blended--silver striking off silver.
They haunted book rental booths,
combed aisles of threads and zippers,
climbed to the theater balconies, the palaces
where Astaire dipped and turned them
into more than they were.
In the late afternoons they crowded the winter dusk
waiting at the Isle-of-Safety, for the bus
with the right name to carry them home
to the simmer of soup on the stove,
the fire’s sweet red milk.
Evenings, far over the tiny houses
the wind swept the black pines like a broom,
stars swirled in their boiling cauldron of indigo
and the children floated to sleep to the women’s song
zipping the night together, to the story
of the snow goose who went farther and farther
and never returned.
Reading the Obituaries
Marilyn L. Taylor
Now the Barbaras have begun to die,
trailing their older sisters to the grave,
the Helens, Margies, Nans—who said goodbye
just days ago, it seems, taking their leave
a step or two behind the hooded girls
who bloomed and withered with the century—
the Dorotheas, Eleanors and Pearls
now swaying on the edge of memory.
Soon, soon, the scythe will sweep for Jeanne
and Angela, Patricia and Diane—
pause, and return for Karen and Christine
while Susan spends a sleepless night again.
Ah, Debra, how can you be growing old?
Jennifer, Michelle, your hands are cold.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Sarah Anne Loudin Thomas
When the trail gave us up,
he was there—just sitting
in a pickup that carried
stories in dents and dings,
scrapes and scratches telling
of good times gone not so.
Propping the door open
he leaned into the vee
of windshield and door.
"You seen a man and a dog
up there in the pasture?"
No, but never mind, it was just
an opening for other words
to slip through—words like
family and woods and used-to-be.
And so we stood
and we talked.
no bandying about of names, just
kinship like the air between us.
The afternoon breeze whispered,
"This is how the world was meant to be.
This is how we were meant to be in it."
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
All morning in the February light
he has been mending cable,
splicing the pairs of wires together
according to their colors,
white-blue to white-blue
violet-slate to violet-slate,
in the warehouse attic by the river.
When he is finished
the messages will flow along the line:
thank you for the gift,
please come to the baptism,
the bill is now past due:
voices that flicker and gleam back and forth
across the tracer-colored wires.
We live so much of our lives
without telling anyone,
going out before dawn,
working all day by ourselves,
shaking our heads in silence
at the news on the radio.
He thinks of the many signals
flying in the air around him
the syllables fluttering,
saying please love me,
from continent to continent
over the curve of the earth.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The Patience of Ordinary Things
It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?
Mostly when I'm vacuuming the carpet
in Mr. Besdine's office
I don't worry, just do the work
and know I'll be sleeping in my own bed
when all the desks in all them offices
will have people sitting around them.
Sometimes I don't hear the vacuum cleaner
and I'm quiet like when I play
Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
in the Mission Baptist Church.
There are other times I imagine fixing biscuits
unrolling my cloth from the coffee can,
flour still on it from the last time,
smoothing it out on the counter,
cloth white, flour white.
My mother's biscuit cutter
made from an old Pet Milk can,
not a tack of rust on it,
presses in easy as a body to a hammock.
Some like biscuits and gravy,
I myself fancy biscuits with my homemade
muscadine jelly that comes from the
muscadine grape that grows wild.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Stars in Her Pocket
By Ken Nye
Millions lie before her.
She overlooks most, but here is one
that warrants inspection.
Something in the smooth roundness of the glistening wet stone
catches her eye,
like a shooting star.
Stooping, she plucks it from the foaming sand,
holds it in her hand,
rolls it over,
examines its veins
and blended colors.
But it lacks something.
She discards it
and begins again to scan the stars before her,
washed every few seconds
by an infinite number of swirling eddies,
one after the other, as she searches for the perfect stone.
Here is one of unusual…………What?
What is it about this stone
that gets her attention?
What is it
that refuels the possibility of selection?
A color that echoes a chord in her memory?
A design in the miracle mix of magma and malachite?
An elevation of the thrill of discovery,
the wonder of the limitless galaxy of miniature globes,
fresh and pure,
perennially washed and waiting for her?
She will do this all afternoon
and end up with a pocket
pulling the side of her shorts into a sag.
Returning to the blanket, she will disgorge the stars
onto a terry cloth towel and sit and gaze at them,
as one contemplates the heavens
on a crisp, moonless night in deep winter.
Chalice of mysteries,
each stone an untold story of creation,
flawless beauty even in its abundance.
Millions lie before her,
yet it is only these that she has chosen.
Do they recognize the honor?
Will they ever again,
in the infinite eons of time,
be judged worthy of wonder?
Friday, March 11, 2011
By Andrew Hudgins
Some people as they die grow fierce, afraid.
They see a bright light, offer frantic prayers,
and try to climb them, like Jacob's ladder, up
to heaven. Others, never wavering,
inhabit heaven years before they die,
so certain of their grace they can describe,
down to the gingerbread around the eaves,
the cottage God has saved for them. For hours
they'll talk of how the willow will not weep,
the flowering Judas not betray. They'll talk
of how they'll finally learn to play the flute
and speak good French.
Still others know they'll rot
and their flesh turn to earth, which will become
live oaks, spreading their leaves in August light.
The green cathedral glow that shines through them
will light grandchildren playing hide-and-seek
inside the grove. My next-door neighbor says
he's glad the buzzards will at last give wings
to those of us who've envied swifts as they
swoop, twist, and race through tight mosquito runs.
And some—my brother's one—anticipate
the grave as if it were a chair pulled up
before a fire on winter nights. His ghost,
he thinks, will slouch into the velvet cushion,
a bourbon and branch water in its hand.
I've even met a man who says the soul
will come back in another skin—the way
a renter moves from house to house. Myself,
I'd like to come back as my father's hound.
Or something fast: a deer, a rust-red fox.
For so long I have thought of us as nails
God drives into the oak floor of this world,
it's hard to comprehend the hammer turned
to claw me out. I'm joking, mostly. I love
the possibilities—not one or two
but all of them. So if I had to choose,
pick only one and let the others go,
my death would be less strange, less rich, less like
a dizzying swig of fine rotgut. I roll
the busthead, slow, across my tongue and taste
the copper coils, the mockingbird that died
from fumes and plunged, wings spread, into the mash.
And underneath it all, just barely there,
I find the scorched-nut hint of corn that grew
in fields I walked, flourished beneath a sun
that warmed my skin, swaying in a changing wind
that tousled, stung, caressed, and toppled me.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Your Family’s Farm, Empty
"Buildings can't want."—Donald Rumsfeld
By Nick Lantz
Neither does the ax regret each tree it has bitten,
though it leans against the shed
like a drunk locked out of his own house.
The tractor doesn't moon
over the physique of its youth.
The dry birdbath makes no plans
for the future.
What can the barn recall of the day
you climbed the ladder into its loft and found
a pair of buzzard chicks
skulking among the hay bales?
Your grandfather shot them with a pistol
and kicked them out of the haymow for you
to carry to the ditch beyond the field.
Does the barn remember those shots
exploding inside it like a burst neuron?
The weight of those bodies thudding to earth?
Can the field remember your feet crossing it, the air
heavy with crickets?
Does the ditch remember the bones the coyotes
gnawed and scattered?
You stand here, where the walnut tree was felled,
one foot on the smooth disc of the stump.
The grass makes no demands on your soul.
The cow paths are as forgetful as the rain.
If it is possible,
grown over with morning glories
is less than indifferent to silence.
For What Binds Us
by Jane Hirshfield
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Seeing and Believing
The girls giggled
but the boys laughed right out loud
when Mrs. Stone raged crimson
holding my eighth grade project:
"The Map of New Jersey."
"Get up here, boy!"
and I had no choice
but to walk the gangplank to her desk
where my map choked in her fist.
"What’s this jazz? Huh?
The ocean is not green, Bub, it’s blue.
Ya’ get it? Blue, blue, blue, blue!"
punching my map with each word into my chest.
My classmates roared a chorus
of "Green ocean! Green ocean!"
their voices rising in waves of laughter
as I carried the wrinkled and ripped map
back to my seat through their sneers.
Soon, all their maps perimetered the room
leaving me adrift in the memory of a Sunday
when, in the October air,
my father and I walked over seashells
and I, only nine,
remarked that the ocean looked green.
My father, peering out from beneath his cap,
said, "Yes, it does" and his fingers swam
through my hair.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Neighbors on West Boulevard
“They have a Pit bull now, “ I heard my mom say.
“They live like niggers,” my dad answered, between his teeth.
I was instructed not to talk to the neighbors, to the tall boy
who was so skinny his chest caved in like a shallow bowl.
His hair was shaved on top and long in the back.
When he skate boarded by our window, holding a baby
lightly in his arms, a lollipop stuck in her squalling
mouth, my dad called Social Services. No one ever came.
My dad called city hall because they had painted their house
only as high as they could reach, a dull orange resting
on flaking blue. No one ever came. My dad had all this time
to make these calls because he was laid off from Twin Discs
for six months. Mom worked at 0 & H Bakery down
the street, getting up at four. My dad watched the neighbors a lot.
Beware of the Dog. My dad laughed at the new sign slapped
on their porch railing. “Beware of the wife!” he said. She was
a barrel-bodied, charcoal-voiced girl with a half-done cross tattoo
on her wide calf. “Close the fucking door!” she yelled to one
or all of her children. “Close your fucking mouth! “my dad said.
My mom, doling out Hungry Man Lasagna, gave him a look.
We were learning about all religions in my history class. I learned
about how Hindus had many gods: Shiva and Ganesh and the blue
Krishna. And how Hindus were to be kind to every living creature,
even cows. I carefully cut one of my mom's daffodils from her little
garden with my school scissors and laid it on the neighbor's
slanty porch. I came into our house, whistling Nutcracker Suite, bouncy
in my new Keds. Dad slapped me once on the cheek, hard.
“I told you not to go near that house, “he said. “It'll swallow you up.”
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Getting It Right
What could it hurt to rewrite my adolescence--
for instance, say this time I kiss Anna after the Junior Prom.
as our limo drives through a night so dark I see only her lips.
The Globe can offer a correction: due to an editorial error
my football-crazed dog, Rambo, never collided with the fender
of that cruising Toyota. At fifteen, family eating pasta, let's say my father
no longer informs us he has throat cancer, there's no surgery
that steals his voice. This time Anna can arrive at my sixteenth birthday party
in a swimsuit. It wouldn't change the course of known events
for me to say we retired to the bedroom where I touched parts
of Anna's body which called to me like distant church bells.
And this time no one moves out: my brother still lives
in the basement, spinning a record twenty years long, an Eagles poster
"Live at the Gardens" nailed above his bed. My sister spends eternity
in the bathroom perfecting the art of mascara,
morning after morning her blond lashes bring a May sunrise
into our kitchen. Let Rambo score a touchdown running
a ten-yard fade. Let my father's voice call me to dinner.
The Herald can publish a new story: my parents purchase
that '89 mini-van, its tank big enough to hold 30 years of gasoline--
hands on the wheel, everyone buckled, my father leads us in song,
"The Long Road Home," and Anna too sits in the back,
her voice joining ours as she reaches for me,
her red bikini brighter than any brake light
~ Steven Coughlin
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Of Feathers, Of Flight
“…if I look up into the heavens I think that it will all come right …
and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
– Anne Frank
That spring, a baby jay fell from its nest, and
we took it to Mrs. Levine, who told us the
mother would know our hands and never take
it back. Spring that year was a cardboard box,
a bird cradled in cotton, cries for eyedropper
food – the wide mouth that became a beak,
feather-stalks stretched into wings. We knew,
of course, that we couldn’t keep it. (Later, we
would mark the spot with stones and twigs –
where the bird fell, where we let it go – and
sometimes, stopped in the middle of play,
would point and say, there, right there.)
The day we freed it, it beat, a heart-clock
(wound and sprung in Ruth Levine’s old hand)
that, finally, finding the sky, flew higher than
all the briars strung like metal barbs above the
backyard fence – a speck of updraft ash and
gone. Heaven, fuller then for one small bird,
spread its blue wing over us and the tree and
Mrs. Levine who, breathing deeply, raised
her numbered arm to the light and moved
her thumb over each fingertip as if she could
feel to the ends of her skin the miracle edge
of freedom, of feathers, of flight.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Desire Under the Cheese Grater
Open the kitchen drawer—
I want to be idle as a tea ball. I want to lie
beside the wooden spoon, the carrot
peeler, the five plastic cups that fit one
inside the other: tidy travelers to the counter.
I want to be reckless as measuring spoons—
to fling my big, smaller, small heads back,
dream of ginger, of cinnamon,
sprawl akimbo on the tack paper.
I want to be called dramatic by the corn cob holders,
poor things, how they can only jab and stick;
so what if I want to be picked up.
Let me be. The way butter becomes a yellow river,
a place for the garlic to shout and moan;
how the onions give over to shine and sigh,
I want to be turned over and over
in competent kitchen hands.
I want to be surprised.
I want to grow shy as an egg poacher.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I Am Fishing for God
using my heart as bait.
It is just before dawn,
the slightest hint of
pink bleeds into the
night sky. I use my
pen knife to cut the
hole in my chest,
reaching behind the
pocket of my shirt.
What a tough muscle
to pull the hook through.
The heart is astonished
to be in this other world
and trembles and shivers like
a moth discovered in daylight.
I try to calm it by stroking it
by telling it that it will all be
ok, but what do I know.
The breeze picks up and chills the cavern
in my chest. It feels good to
be empty at last. I cast my heart
across the water. I cast it again
and again. Sometimes it floats on
the surface, other times it sinks
below. Something will strike at it
that I can't see. I pray
I am using the right bait.
The tough outer layers
soften in the water. The heart grows
smaller, more pliant.
It has become a beautiful
blue jewel. I begin
not to recognize it.
Was this me?
It waits. I wait.
The boat rocks
slightly in the breeze
lifted and lowered
by the tide.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The Zen Buddhist in Produce At Our Local Wal*Mart
First of all, he refuses to punch the time clock,
says it's against his religion,
that he's not here for the money.
And he takes so long to do anything!
Days, weeks, months...it's all the same.
Just the other day, in fact, he held a lemon in his hand
the whole second shift, stood there staring at it.
"It's the center of the universe," he said,
"bright, clean, like a new sun."
Management wuld like to fire him, but can't.
Discrimination, you know, equal opportunity employment.
They wouldn't want to anyway.
Compared to Zen masters at other Wal*Marts, he's quick.
Besides he pulls in lots of customers.
They love watching how he plays with time,
how when he steps into the store, it seems to stop.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Where Have All the Whistlers Gone?
by Cliff Lynn
at what point in our history did lazy wend
its way into a four lettered word? backyard
hammock days reading wooden fiction or
Mad magazine with our eyes closed or
whistling our way into town like tom
or huck or becky work wasn't the enemy
wasn't a concept worth a whittle of our
time. where have all the whistlers gone?
like earl hagen who whistled andie and opie
to the fishin' hole. I met earl he was a guest
at a high school assembly blind as a black-eyed
pea crossed the stage with his son as a crutch
but that old slacker he could still warble
with the best of 'em. seems we've become
wounded with wasted worry compound
fractures of day jobs head wounds of second
jobs of worry. snow white wondered why
we wouldn't just whistle while we worked. but
ms. white aside, old earl got it right. he didn't
whistle while he worked- whistling was his work.