September 16, 2017

WHO I AM


WHO I AM

On a slide, under the microscope,
tissue says I am bone and flesh and blood.
My swift life propelled by a pulsing heart,
legs to walk me down paths that lead somewhere;
two eyes that see and too long had been blind
to what really matters in this meantime world.
Both of my faces played out accordingly:
opportune smiles, the look of malcontent.
A seeker of truth rummaging the wrong
treasures, I sought silver and gold, bright stones,
all false measures that mislead pilgrim souls.
One day in prayer I heard His voice reveal
to me how to live a life a child of God,
repent of sin, amend the wrongs I’d done,
love the Creator, Redeemer, Giver of life,
wear the armor, battle the demons.
The new road I walk leads to Heaven.
One day I’ll lay aside this shell for glory.


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I'VE SEEN THEM


I’VE SEEN THEM


My brother Justin and I looked at each other, made our eyes roll, lips curl the way bystanders do when they see or hear what hints of madness or at least a loose screw or two loose in the head.

“I know,” George went on. “I’ve seen them!”


George Fillmore hesitated. His right hand visibly shook. A tic pulsed away in his left green eye. Had we not known him well, we would have said George was experiencing the DT’s, but Fillmore was a devotee of H2O. He never drank the bubbly sodas Justin and I lived on nor did he ever demonstrate the slightest leanings toward an imbalance in the upper story.

Then George waved his hand toward his bathroom and we led the way until we were standing before the mirror. “Look!” he said. “Those three men!”


Justin made the horrid mistake of touching the glass. The screams that followed were his as reluctantly he dove into the mirror. We saw now that he had transformed one of the three into himself. The screaming stopped. Justin seemed content inside the mirror, beckoning us to follow. “Just dive in,” he said.

I turned around toward George. He had left the bathroom and returned with a hammer. “It’s the devil’s work,” he said as he raised the hammer. “We need to destroy the mirror before it drags us both into whatever Hell is in there.”

“What about my brother?” I asked. “We destroy the mirror and Justin’s gone forever.”

But George was not going to reconsider. He swung the hammer. The mirror shattered into shards of glass.

The two of us heard Justin calling us from a sharp sliver of broken glass. George again raised the hammer and smashed the mirror jigsaw piece into shiny grains. Justin was gone.  

The investigation was brief. Without my brother’s body, there was no case. He was somewhere out there, which was true enough, but I was convinced there was no way I’d see him again.

After burning down his house, George disappeared as well.

I wrote all this down. Why I don’t know. Who would believe it?

They say if you break a mirror you’re in for seven bad-luck years. What is there to say about me? I destroyed the mirrors in my apartment. I avoid gazing into one, though I suspect one day, accidentally, I will. Justin, maybe even George, will stare back at me with that come-on look and I will succumb.  

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NOT MY CUP OF TEA


NOT MY CUP OF TEA

Well, I didn’t want tea anyway.
I asked for Chianti wine,
but she shook her head and pointed
to the cup. “This will do just fine.”
I did not want to offend her,
she seemed the fragile kind,
so, I took the tea and drank some,
told her I did not mind.
Oh, the British tea was steaming,
it burned my upper lip.
I spit it out like a whale’s spout
spraying passing ships.
Well, I didn’t want tea anyway,
I ventured once again.
In Sicily, it’s Chianti wine
and we drink it quite plain:
No crumpets or flaky scones,
no biscuits dunked to swim.
Sicilian boys grow tough and brave
with glasses filled to brim.
And by the way, I said once more:

I didn’t want the tea.

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September 13, 2017

DESPAIR AND HOPE WEAR DIFFERENT FACES


DESPAIR AND HOPE WEAR DIFFERENT FACES

She sat across from me in the hospital lobby, arms cradling a bloody young girl.

I was waiting for Marian’s visit to end. Since learning she was pregnant, her face had taken on a rosy glow, a smile I hadn’t seen in the five years of our marriage.

Meanwhile, across from me, a child cried in pain. Dark battered face, swollen black eyes. The mother audibly praying, “Dios, Ayúdame. God, help me!”

I walked to the desk. “Can somebody take care of her?”

“They’re waiting for an emergency doctor to free himself a little time,” the desk nurse said.

Down the hall, Marian headed toward me like one of those TV commercials where a woman floats through the air, smiling, beaming, over her choice of some new product discovery.  

When I turned, the mother and child were gone.

Sheltered from danger,
The fledgling hides behind wings--
Mother keeps her safe.

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September 12, 2017

PUNCHINELLO: A Petrarchan Sonnet



PUNCHINELLO: A Petrarchan Sonnet
    [based on the art of Caras Ionut]

En route tonight attired in red-white suit
and mask, cycling fast to hide a lengthy nose,
Punchinello appears in classic pose.
Tonight, in gloved hand he will strum a lute
to thunderous applause. He’ll bow: a brute
who masquerades a gentleman whose foes
are few. They see facades, just what he shows,
not the tormented fool riddled with woes,
but friendly comic Mr. Punch whose break
elicits belly laughs, guffaws galore.
The stick with which he whacks those on the stage
is hardly humor. A second encore
brings him back. He bows and we say, “How sleek!”
as if Punch alone dons masks to hide deep rage.


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FIVE 17TH SYLLABLE POT OF JAM POEMS


FIVE 17TH SYLLABLE
POT OF JAM POEMS

1
Mama never called it jam
when she gathered berries
to make jelly.

2
I wondered as a boy
caught in mischief
how it got me in a jam.

3
You can catch more flies
with honey.
Wouldn’t sticky jam
work twice as well?

4
Music of colorful fruit
Mashed into mason jars:
a jam session?

5
Too much pot,
he jams his foot on the gas
and speeds down Strawberry Lane.


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September 11, 2017

IN BORDEAUX NO ONE WAITS


IN BORDEAUX NO ONE WAITS

He sits in the Paris railway station
reading Le Monde, puffing on a Galois.
He checks his wristwatch and the station clock.
A half-hour before the train arrives
to take him to Bordeaux where a shared drink
of good Merlot will toast her dying,
gunshots shatter her goblet, wine and blood spilled.
He imagines her final regrets.

Did I mention this is pure fiction?
The man is missing from the railway?
He no longer smokes or drinks or harbors
The unexpected twist and turn of murder?
In Bordeaux, no one waits for this monsieur
To compliment the vineyard’s newest wine.
He sits at home in his sofa chair.


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THE DYING OF SUMMER



THE DYING OF SUMMER

Fastening two red roses with a granny knot
will not secure their togetherness past summer.
As August sun mellows to a cooler yellow,
so too the pistil of the male and the stamen
of the female, pollen-free, deteriorate
in a last garden effort, clutching stems,
looping simmered petals in an arabesque pose.
If only life could skirt the dying of summer,
somehow reverse autumn or insist it dawdle
in the seasonal wings far from vibrant garden!   

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September 10, 2017

THE SPACE OF SELF


THE SPACE OF SELF

We lie at the coastline of the ocean,
white foam sprays our backs,
ferocious waves roar.
We are tossed and turned by the summer wind
and by the children with their pails to fill
as though we grains of sand were grains of gold.
We lie at the border of water and land.
We neither speak nor conspire to rebel.
Humility comes easily to us.  
“What good are you?” Once asked a beachcomber
sifting for lost change and finding none.
Bathers soften their steps on their swimmer’s walk,
they lie above us on their blankets.
They shade us from the hot sun and the waves.
We have no need for more.


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THOSE PUNISHING EYES


THOSE PUNISHING EYES

Vampires beguile the unwary
with grins that beam the absence of peril.
How submissively trusting of strangers
to bare their throats on dark cobblestone streets!
Not till the fanged perforation spouts blood
do mortal offspring piece together
their bloody demise, those punishing eyes
ablaze with last reflections, time’s halting
long enough to recruit another living dead.


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September 7, 2017

HEAVEN’S WHAT I WANT

 HEAVEN’S WHAT I WANT


The mea culpa I rattled off?
Life had me measuring my own worth
in how much I could accumulate:
the electronic toys, knickknacks, trinkets—
collections of nonsense that will sit
on dusty shelves after I am dust.
I climbed that ladder for elusive
success. I broke hearts. I lied through my teeth.
Then one day the locked door inside me
came ajar and I could feel the rays
of grace seep through and save my soul.
To win the world and lose eternal glory?
Only a fool would accept this false profit.
The massima culpa to condemn me?
Fool me once, imperfect world, shame on me.
Fool me twice, shame on me.


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September 6, 2017

SPARROWS DON’T CARE


SPARROWS DON’T CARE
 [based on artwork by Peterio]

What do blackbirds care whether tree branch or
skeletal arm branches out for perching?
Late afternoon walkers see them at rest
and wonder if in their avian dreams
they see behind closed eyes the gifts of seed
scattered at their clasping toes or the wind
howling dark secrets about the demise
of autumn. What do blackbirds care if branch
or human arm uphold them at the heights?
Nor do they venture into the whys
and wherefores of the trunk’s rotting shoots,
how even trees die and from the chests of
the loveless, hearts break loose and fly away.

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