Diversity

 

The man who fixes my car

came from Jordan,

doesn’t drink booze,

fasts during Ramadan, and

never built a bomb.

 

The only terrorists he knows are his small children

who behave much the same as mine did at an early age

and a wife that makes him scrub grease from under

his nails before daring to sit down to dinner.

 

He treats me fair,

does good work,

has never overcharged

anyone I know

for his labor.

 

I would not kill this man for any god and do not fear

for my life when the oil gets changed in my Ford. I call

him friend and might even loan him money, if I had some.

He would not send a drone to my daughter’s wedding.

 

 

 

 

 

Aperture

 

The stench of sweat and the hint of blood

The bitter lash of a leather whip and the clatter

of chains in the dark hold of a drowning ship

The death rattle of bumble bees

– COUNTERPOINT –

The melody of nightingales

 

                        The wail of a train and the hiss of steam

 

– Intermezzo –

                       

a river spills over the blistered land

a silk scarf flutters from a barren tree branch

marbles rattle over a tin roof

nightshade flowers an intoxicating death

a crippled man walks around a lake six times,

finally dips his toe in

polyphonic flocks of grackles score the wind

while flowers wheeze below them.

                   night

                                 and

    sweet

                                                  fire

                                                        ashes of stars

insane bumper cars at an empty carnival.

A rubber tree moans in the monsoon wind

wet leaves whisper along its limbs

like a lover’s fingernails in the soft coming

                                of spring and then, charred strings.

                        The splendid noise of Mingus and his sidemen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, Starry Night

 

Van Gogh saw love for what it was

when he painted those flaming stars

above a sleeping Flemish village

with sweeping brushstrokes of yellow fire

and a barren Cypress tree reaching

from earth to support on the shadows

of its gnarled limbs the falling sky.

It was simply a law of physics in action.

What seems to float in orbit over earth

keeps falling toward its object of desire

as the ground below spins constantly away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unpacking My Parents’ House for the Garage Sale

 

 

In the attic clutter metastasizes.

 

Cardboard urns

labeled “mixed shit” spin

in deadly patterns, stack and rise,

crimp and crumble, bend

and split beyond control.

These contain the dead cells of life

once lived – here, a broken ashtray,

there a worn ball glove, over here

report cards and a dusty shoebox

filled with faded snapshots

of some childhood Christmas

neither my sister nor I can remember.

What use is this folded flag,

symbol for an armistice

no family reaches until death?

What we wish to be true rarely is.

Mothballs swaddle the scent

of my mother’s high school sweater

in a musty shroud of newspaper

and wool blankets.

Above the coos of doves

that nest in eaves and tiptoes of rats

over rafter beams, I pretend to hear

the scratch of vinyl rise from an old ‘78.

Ray Charles and his piano singe

the air with dark blues,

my father’s favorite sound,

as two silhouettes dance, dusty

in the yellow memory of dusk

that has slipped in through the sill

of a single window, never opened,

never used.