Poetry Window Poem of the Week

Introduction to our poetry window, featuring for the next year the selected poems of Johnny H., an East Village poet currently waiting for a publisher. We like his work and are sure that many of you will as well. The poetry window is a real window, at the front of our store. The poems are in a well lighted place and can be read at any time. Not a bad destination if you can’t sleep at night. You can send comments to poetjohnnyh@yahoo.com     Poem of the week:     


I touched a stinging nettle
Just the other day
Trying to make a cup of tea
Don’t worry it went away.
Reminded me of better times
When I crashed my red car
Into the public Sherman tank
In the town square
Surrounded by the law
That at least
Was an itch to scratch.


The following poems are Poems of the Week from our archives of Johnny H poems:

       As Long as the Sun Will Shine

When you were clay
The orange sun
Announced its presence
Through stretched tegument
Said I will be your guide,
Will bump you up
Fast like the mint plants
I have this in mind
For you to follow me
Across the sky

Patient while your father
Exercises his potter wheel
He is a good man
To guide your youth–
He and a series of base pairs
In two linked strands
Will form your respect for others
And especially for animalkind,
Having its own ride
In the carnival.
He will teach you
That water is a gift
And to choke up on a bat.

You will be my emissary.
At eighteen
I will watch you fall
From your motored bike,
I will cast the shadow
On your ambulance
I will brighten the lobby
Of the morgue
I will push through the clouds
Over the memory grounds
You are to stay with me
Together we will
Bring our light to all.



Go forth
Mighty one.
Suleiman the Magnificent
Dispatched you
To save the bowels of the King
Go forth into the night
Your maker’s bengal fire eye
Watches over my dark kitchen.


The best thing about
The flat seeds wafting
In August
In waves
From the tree
To the ground
Is the birds think
You threw them there.
You get credit
And they like you.

The alternative,
An east wind day
Spreading the seeds
Far and wide
Someone else
Gets the credit
You have to start
All over again
With just your good looks.

      Go Back to Nature

The brown puffed tardigrade
Living within the tangled feet
Of the green-needle bonsai
Along the silver shore of mirror lake
At the jutting-in point
Of finger creek
Looks at wandering you
Over her impervious shoulder
Or at least discerns through it
Your annoying umbrage
Interrupting the previously steady
Jewel waves of sun.

     The Passing of the Elm In Tompkins Square Park

I remember a time of the elms
Silvered stitched and golden green,
A variegated quilt over the park,
Reflections of blue tarpaulins,
Whispers of Revolutionary Catalonia,
A hum of wind through leaves,
The echoes of American rock, punk rock.
Also woodland rhapsodies
Song of the mujeres libres.

There had to have been children
Dancing with bottles
Because I remember the hydrants,
Spraying windmills
I do not remember children,
None younger than Vickie and I.

An IRA soup kitchen,
French onion the soup of the day
The alternative,
From over on Avenue C,
Unfortunate soup,
Not vegetarian.

Tonight, in the dark
There will be children,
Scootering the walkways.
You will be able to hear,
Listen closely,
Tents flapping,
Daughters of syndicalists,
Bowls passed around.
There will be quiet, too.
Vickie died at 52
Breast Cancer.
Blue is the color of the elm
Glucose, Oxygen, ATP.

         REM Sleep

Did you dream a robin cramping
In a tree
You must have
Something startled you
To leave my arms
And seek the wall,
That lost bedside.

You are but a form
An early morning shadow
Sight and sound
A vivid dream of mine
An arm span forth.

Are you asleep
Do you not hear my wanting,
See my shadow,
Are you not reaching for me?

If that lost wall is a lost forest
And the birds are strange to you
Hear my calling above the roar
Look for the conveyance I have sent
Traverse the distance.

    Walking Stick
The story of that stick
Lying in the dirt
It was a branch
Praying shade leaves
Over Saint Francis school yard
Raucous recess,
Meditations of the King.
Powerhouse leaves
Blessed by the church
Need turning about
How else to find the sun
For growth and fruit
Pollen and bees.
Dutiful branch
Breeze catching
Gracefully aging
Ten years, thirty
Moving on through
The patient cycle
Faithful branch
To faithful stick.
Pick it up.
Walk tall.


    Re the Dedication at #204

Seventh Street between B and C
Is just a regular street
Ginsberg and Kerouac
Took for granted
The yellow flower pots
On pastel window ledges
And wrote instead of illumination
Free jazz
Free food
Free sex.
It’s okay
That’s cool.

          The Internet

Why do you think we look bored?
This display boat is boring.
Where are the cobwebs,
The broken bloody nets?
Even the fish smell is piped in
Fried tenders
Trawling and docking music
We do not need the explainer
Feeding us numbers
That the real, smelly, boat
Clocked between overhauls
To erase the oily barnacles.
Come alive, man,
Introduce us to your grubby mates.

       On Other People’s Dyings

I had a sudden urge
To look up
My prose writing
Workshop teacher
E. L. Doctorow.
I wanted him to see
I’m writing poetry now,
To hear him calmly say
Writers are witnesses
But the catch is
Mr. Doctorow died a few years ago.

The way such an urge presents
And the way it leaves…
I mean people die in everyone’s life
Some so close and loved
That presenting and leaving
Is an unyielding wave
God bless you…
This was not that.
It was only a strange feeling.
I planned to tell Mr. Doctorow
About my search for metaphor.
Yet I was greeted by a dancing girl.

I would have shown him
Not told
Using this,
What you,
The witness’s witness,
Are reading,
Barely a poem,
Though one nonetheless,
With line breaks
A little rhythm
Plump metaphors.

Maybe the whole uncanny thing
About people dying,
Not being there anymore,
Scotch and soda aside,
Was some evolutionary process
Where we just move on,
By Design,
Our axons straight,
Our dendrites unruffled,
Run a comb through our hair
Be on our way.

The poet asks,
With little flair,
Leaning forth his cane,
I must implore
How do we keep our hands
Out of the boiling pot
Of supernatural soup
Should we just stand there
Aside, watching,
Witness for the state?

  I Bank With Her and She With Me

Forgive me I forgot to say I love you
I will contend, though,
We have a joint savings account
Where I deposit my words in flush times
And you yours in your unravelings.
Will you not agree we each have, inherently,
Our own approach to pawnbroking
Yours more concerned with principal
Mine with interest.

On our account
You withdraw punctiliously
As the knotted pine tree drinketh,
Upward flowing capillaries,
A being whose future
Is a canopy of birds
This season or the next or the next
Me the sunflower
Transpiring in the sun,
Pleasing a swarm of bees
Xylem stem a bucket brigade
Running succor to a glistening head
Whose future is seed
If not this afternoon then the next.

To find my love, my love
Consult our passbook
Where is written a fiduciary promise
That though I may trip from time to time
My roots are one with yours
Bound by mycorrhizal substrate
Should I arrive home
And say what a day this has been
What I really mean is
How was your day dear
I sure am glad we are growing together
By the way I sure do love you.

    Selection Pressure

It was at the botanical garden
Under a rock
Where we discovered
The secret of love.
Love is not a dream
But a beetle
The carapace of which
Bears a hologram
A wedding ring
Not unlike the emperor crabs
Tossed back in the water
By Carl Sagan;
Here the female of our species
Not permitting the male
To crush anything that glimmers
And the male so loving her
As to subdue his inclinations
To mess with the gods.

     Under Heaven a Time to Clean

Nowadays a broom comes in handy
So much to sweep
All the land is covered dirty
Hard to tell if streets are left
Or roads to anywhere.
Once upon a time there was empire
That built the streets
And roads to Babel,
Free speak of empire.
Brooms, though, piled up from disuse.
There was you
There was me
We were king and queen.
Voices of the mayor
From street sweepers came
To get your car
Out of the way.
The gas has left the ground,
Moved to the air.
On foot we run through the streets
Sweeping a path in front
Like the Jains
We ask forgiveness.

Henry the Stammerer and the Rise of Capital

The good thief manages
To wrest himself from the cross
Beneath the side eye of the king
Henry the Stammerer running
Through debris
The afterlife a loaf of bread
Tucked under his arm
One heel the devil
Gabriel the other
The centurion slicing
Going first for the smile
Then the bloodholes
The Stammerer mocking
Drawing from his good life as a cur.
Henry sets a pace
Of two thousand years
His flock of strays
Lapping and tail biting.


    Children of the Dusk

This is for the child
Who in the middle of the night
Wakes up
Thinking about the belt.

But also for the green child
And her red dream intruder
Who the other day
Green teased about
Fat clothes
And watched red’s face
Pale like the lost moon.

For the princess who sleeps
One eye on the clock
Wishing the numbers to fade,
Let them keep the school
For themselves.

She was never understood
Nor will ever be,
Having found her place
In the first story book
The teacher ever read.

For the child of things
Weights and measures,
Not people,
The names of others
Being words
And the others numbers
There is a special green bus
To drive you away.

As for the child
Who sleeps the night through
Ladies and Gentleman
I dedicate my next song.


On Reading Absalom Absalom

Choose you soldier ghost
Pick one
Scratch it on your stone
Bury the slab to the hilt
But just the hilt
There is a germ so loves the dirt
Another so loves the rain.
The South will venture by
You should dress your burden
Satinette and piping
The South will come to you,
Crippled and stout
Wanting to know
Wishing to hear from nature
The intractable end.


          Junkyard Dog

You could see the rib skin dog
Was having a rough time about it
Drinking from the flathead six puddle
Through a rainbow film of flickering oil.
I called him over
Wiped a star from his beard
Poured my New York City tap
Into a headlamp shell
Proceeded to yarn him
About my life too as a junkyard dog
At least in your telling
About tail chasing
And not coming to terms with myself
Let alone you.
Dog circled, stretched out,
Plopped his diaphanous skin down
Next to my seat
Beaten burgundy leather
4 on the floor
Flapped his ears flat to let me frizzle.
They were soft.


Girl Interviews

Human race
You are here
On little account
Of Alexander the Great
The balance of life
Is no different
From the balance of all things
The tiger in man
Is the tigress
Holding to account.
Humanity begins
With the interview.
Boy, you won’t hear it
You won’t see it
If you know what hit you
It is you who will be proud
Proud you should be
For having been chosen
From among the lunkheads
For a crack at your DNA.


      Making Love

First unwedge the concrete pillories
From your neighborhood tree roots free
Gaia and hope Athena
Doesn’t bite you
Too quick
In the wrong place

Only appropriate luggage
Don’t run
Get a haircut
Flashing ATM

Say the words
Hold the hand
Draw no lines
Pet her cat


        One Should Walk There

We walk between the two,
The violet and the larkspur,
A woodland trail,
Towpath for a stream
Memory flowing
Passing this flower nexus
Of the well examined life.

A violet for every mood
A mood for every violet
The larkspur
Stern of motive,
Self-centered in its aim.
Each has its turn with us.

Violet is the first of dawn,
The last at night
Her whisper is a touch.
The larkspur, in all its hues,
Calls out the storm,
Yet both violet and larkspur
Urge us to move on.



It is not necessary
To invite nature into your house.
But if nature should
Happen to venture
Into your kitchen, say,
You should either set a place
Or coax such little thing
Into a demitasse
And send it on its way.


What You Are Missing

Are night birds not enchanted
Sighting Arcturus
Or do they but fix
For only a wink?
How could they not
Engage with their eyes
When their spinners lock on?
You would think,
For Arcturus,
Bird eyes
Would flicker
Arcturus light
All night across the sky
If for no other reason
Than we would
With our mouths open.


     Flow (The Bighead Carp)

Bighead carp knows not the name
Does not think he invades
Does not feel unclean
Plies along dirty river water
Keeping it as clean as he.
The lip hook came
He knows not from where
Or that it is made of metal
Only that it is there
When he tries to eat.
The river current is his friend,
Flipping the shank of the hook
From time to time
Off the floor of his mouth
Into the water
So to speak
He knows not from where it came
Or whether the pikaia
With its primitive notochord
Also had a barb in its lip.


       On This Day a New Beginning

I like how the water from your dorm
Streams warm and silver
Unlike during the war when it passed
Saturated bodies on the hillside
Seeping into tin cups
With legends of fermented earth.
I am pleased that the commencement
Is a poet’s whose work regarding nature
Has been interpreted
As the future subduing the past,
That the natural world
Is the future itself.
This is your school–
If man happens to live on
The valedictory will be Apollo’s gift to you
Wear it warm like a sweater.


        The gods Around Us

I know there are gods everywhere
I can hear them chirp
And crow gods calling,
Feet planted firmly in the tool making
My friend Anthony has been a god for
seventeen years
Whispering in my ear.

Why have we forsaken so
The gods of yore
When to this very day
They are out there
Flying close to the sun.


The Stories of Our Lives
(For Future Generations)

Often, with little warning
Time ends
With nothing written down.
That is one thing.
We may live a long life,
Too long
To write it all.
That is another.

A drawer of art supplies
Unopened, dried
White canvases
Propped against the walls
Brush swirls
Of the old masters
Ideas of the sublime.

Unfinished poems.

I with children
Have not sufficiently
Told such children
How much I love them
And have always loved them.
They do not know the stories of my life.
I who have tendered reparations to the
By raising such children to be world
Might best gather I and they,
Improving and improved,
Next to a pond
Wait for the fish to jump
The pond circles to reach us.


       When You Were Sleeping

You were beside me warm
I needed warm
You were quiet
I needed reassurance
That would not require
My imagination to dissect
So I said your name
It was my name you said back to me
But in one syllable.
I knew I was being unfair
Nonetheless I pressed on
With the happy memory
Of sitting now
Side by side
The dawn of May 25
Years ago
One beach towel
Across the two of us
With the sun on our legs
Rising to our laps
Chosen because I knew
You could not have sun in your dreams
Not really.



It seems they are always searching
Looking for the right size opening
To push their way through.
Search as they may
Even sighting relief
In the canopy above
What looked like blue sky
Was only a plug.
They move on
Peer talking, nail tapping
It keeps them lubricated
Waiting for the opportunity.


       The Game of Living

If we could take a lesson
From inventors of games
It would be for everyone
To start from zero.
None of this The red bird
Better than the pigeon
Or humans slicing earthworms
Halving and quartering
Just to see.
A roll of the dice
Would start us off
Probabilities kick in
Some eggs would hatch
Others not
That would be fair,
Written instructions

For all to see.
How to handle bullies
In a world like this
Send them back to Go.
Pollute the earth–
Not on any of the cards.
What color are you
Your choice
Crayons of every shade.
Boy or girl
Drone or queen
Goes by the DNA.
So who invented this game
You may ask
Ask you certainly may
After that we leave our notes
We all begin to play.



One day will see
Children at play
Come across in my trash
This very fan
That fades the dew
From my brow
As I sweat through this book
About the hazards of eternity.

There will be the day, too
When the children of those children
Come upon the fragments of my bones,
My teeth,
Left outside the crematorium
To wash along the street
Because my spouse did not want them
In her living room
For people to question
Her choice of color and weight
Of ceramic vessel.

One would hope that the children
Take the fan somewhere
And plug it in
The way that children at play
Often do, just to see.


         In a Heartbeat

When I last saw a naked girl
She was wearing a holter monitor
I asked her what it was for
She said for her EKG
So what am I supposed to do?
Nothing, it’s automatic.
I told her eyes that I was not.
It’s for my fibrillation, she replied,
Would you like to feel? 


In our lives
We pass by
Giving little thought
Simple grey photo of Uncle Ed
Aunt Camilla
Standing there together
Dust on dust
Could it be we move through
Just watching the motes?

A visitor will ask
Who is that and what is that
Anachronistic novelty
On the shelf below
A crest of gold
A family shield
I ask them back
Time which brought this here
Will pass along with it.
One day the final mote
Of our family name
And yours too
Will waft away.

Long ago
Swimming up from dark to light
We told ourselves
You must leave this house
Discover who you are
Seems longer ago,
Perhaps the irony of it,
Coming back late at night
Not bothering to turn on a light
Walking past.

         Other People

There are people
Who make life seem so easy
You see them at fairs
Walking about in proper dress
With proper children
Not a spot of mustard on anyone.

Their desk was next to yours
Both at school and at work
Always so calm.
Calm is an allotment
Some people are faster than others
They used it up long ago.

On the plane
Seat 11C caught the eye
Of the sharpie across the way
And she started talking to him
Just like in the movies.
You saw them together at baggage
And at car rental
Not a Biscoff crumb
Along their fronts.

Your children act ungrateful
They only give you love.
The dog likes to walk in the rain
And wants to be blow-dried.
When you’re all worn out
He rests that big muzzle on your lap.
The wife
You have 25 years
With the same person.
Sometimes you feel her looking at you
You remember back to day one
And the first minute.
There are poems you write
Forgetting why you started.



I have a flash-bulb memory
Of the creep at the side-show
Inside the dunking booth
Rolling down off his perch
And ripping apart the chain link
The water spilling forth
The water itself reaching the crowd
Well before the creep
The crowd scattering
With creep smiles
Still wearing on otherwise perfect faces
Me grabbing up my terrified kids
Booking it toward the subway home
Feeling the hot creep breath
Up and down my back
I did not say anything to you
I yelled to the air in front of me
I was in sympathy
For you and your predicament
Your life-long struggle with inner sloth
Your undiagnosed spectrum syndrome
The ones who said the words
Are the ones you should be chasing.



How can I be inspired
By she with no loose ends
Leaving me here at Pluto’s side
To divine and probe
And turn to muddied words,
What spills from the tea press
After a long night.

Tomorrow eve
Beneath the sheets
Negative to positive
I will be sure to charge you
Jolt you back to musedom.



Mark the calendar
Count down the days
Till the tree reaches your window
For your escape.
In the meantime
Bake bread
Bake extra for the world
For the world will judge you
Believe me when I tell you
No one can resist
Shrouds of rye
Taking over the street
They will be waiting to see
Just who that may be
Working the controls.


      State Park

Human gaze welcome
With conditions
At the Other’s gated nation
3 buffalo in a 3 acre pen
A waft of human breeze
Meets a simmering wave of heat
Jumpstarting the apparitions
Tilt forth to cross the Serengeti
Visions of marshmallows.

Wave crashes in at the tourist stand
Buffalo rock back and forth
Stop sideways, flatten.
Two dimensional shadow pelts
Walls of dusty knotted hides
Subdue the infiltrators.
A point of ultra dark, a side eye,
A ruminating iris
Looks not at the bag of Jet-puffed
But at you.

Tourist gleeful shouts
The door of acceptance is wide open
Even the chain link is but a door stop
You have the perfect bath soap,
Have practiced a lathering tune
Seneca comes to mind
Your master has the same power over you
As do you your slave.
You comb the knots out from your mind
One marshmallow at a time.

A scolding snout
Inflated head
Shoots a braying stem
Peace treaty
Puffy treats
Fire water
Grassland spirits
Epigenetic change
“As it affects the American Buffalo”
Gloria mundi on furry billboard
An advertisement
A bicentennial celebration,
The one eye the dollar bill eye
Certainly why not a state park
For a commemoration.

             Alone Nest

Loneliness is not an island
Nor is it a book.
It is not something that sneaks up,
Descends on you overnight,
Follows you home from a party.
It is not the absence of people.
Even when your dog dies, that is something else.
Loneliness did not start at age ten
Or when you left for college.
If you want to know loneliness,
One day, wearing a headlamp,
Track down a bat
Sleeping on the ceiling of a cave.
He is hanging there in the dark
Next to others hanging there.
This was predetermined.
They were born to hang.
If you feel lonely
Confront it
Welcome it home,
Party or no.


      Lemon Tree

Where did you come from
Lemonade stand?
Who are your children?
What a fabulous idea
Two stools and a board
A flowered cloth
Flowered lemonade.
This is the future, they say
And you are already there.
Five cents, I certainly shall
Freckled cookies
Still warm, you say.
I will take two
Yes, a napkin please.
How did you choose this tree
Of all the trees everywhere?
You say it chose you
I believe this true.
What tree would not want
The future beneath its leaves?


       Searching the Dust

I wish I could say
You will make it to adulthood
You and you and you
I wish I was better
At knowing.
I can only issue prescriptions
Fair to tell you
That do unto others
Is weak to say the least.
I am more likely to tell you
Do not become addicted
Keep your eyes open
And your ears hearing
Gather others with you
Do not be afraid
To see and hear the truth
The answers are not in there
They are out there.
Though the problem of man
May not have a solution
It will never be solved
Within yourself
Within there is no without
Without is from where you came.


                       Toaster Poem

They said this was going to be easy
That you could write a poem about a pop-up toaster
Maybe that is because they were sitting at the table
Trying to think what to write about.
Not me I tried
The toaster kept going in and out of my head
I don’t think even if I had one
That I could write about it
Or any kind of shiny object

Sitting there.

Call me Cassandra if you like
That my abilities lie
In seeing around corners
And sneaking up on subject matter
And bopping it on their heads
Taking muskrats home
And frying in old fashioned skillets
And presenting to you

To savage.

One day I will lie in bed
At the nursing home
And look around
For something to apprehend
And listen to Fox News
And sniff over at my roommate
For material,
Savor (better: savoir, to know) the pale peas,
Pet the stuffed animal they gave me
And hope that someone

Brings me a toaster for Christmas.



A butterfly flapping its wings
In the nineteenth century
Is what brought us here today
To repose side by side
And together share
The news that your pregnancy test
Was positively definitely
The bluest blue it could be.

When we repaired
That palimpsest day
To the cafe
In the Metropolitan Museum of Art
To discuss the Romantics
We did not know
That your love of Coleridge
And mine of Wordsworth
Would be the perfect clash
To give rise to the Modern
The following weekend.

Our discussion
Of how great it is
That poetry no longer rhymes
Or at least doesn’t have to
Was an excellent segue
Out of any preconceived notion
That I should have to impress you
Or you me.
And so from there on out
We began the simple process
The natural one yet so often elusive,
That To and Fro
Call and response
Always part of the natural world
Bird to bird
Bird to flock
Cell to cell,
And in the best of times
Human to human
You to me
And me to you
The highest social state of man,
Called betweenness,
For lack of a word.
It’s something one should try with his neighbor.

That day in the Met cafe
We could not have been further apart
Had one god laid claim to you
And another to me.
There was a hum,
A primordial air,
I can hear it now if I try,
On the bus
On the way home.
It was not the bus
It was not me.
I rode home that day
A long chord playing in my head
That did not shift to another
For one whole week.

I have more of the song now
And so do you.
Mine is always here.
The chords may shift,
At times seem weak
Certainly it ebbs and flows.
Our species is one of thought and act
That’s just the way we are
Instinct is fallow at our side.
There is a time, though,
When we connect
That changes all of it.
To you out there
The luckiest of us
Knowing the same delight
From day to day
We announce forthright
Our miracle to you
Between us we have another.


                        Just Another Story

They were children together
Boylike he ran over her doll with his car.
She tried not to cry.
He helped to prop up Suzie
She forgave him and blamed the car

And stopped taking rides on the bumper seat.

 In school, she sat in the back of the class
He told the other boys
I know her from our block on Main Street
The last row is quiet

She likes poems.

At sixteen
She was the first to get her license
Eyes on the road

Listening as he told her where to take them.

At twenty he visited her dorm
She fixed food on a hot plate
A simple recipe
He thanked her

She was pleased to watch him eat.

When he went into the army
She took him to the bus.
They lost touch for years
She settled in with a man much like herself
In that he also read poetry
He was in law school.
Once she remembered the incident with the doll
And told him about it
What was your friend’s name he asked
The doll’s name was Suzie, she replied.

That kind of just stayed where it was.

Because she did not want to marry the lawyer
She moved on
Because she wasn’t enough in love with him
And her mother had died and left her the house
Several states away.
One day while baking
He knocked on the door.
They told me you had moved back to town he said
I just wanted to see.
He was seated on her vinyl kitchen chair.
I was worried that the war would have changed you
Please stay till the cookies are done
Longer, if you like
You are just how I remember.

You are too.

The war
It was a war.
You don’t have to talk about it.

It wasn’t you, anyway.

Each began a sentence
Do You Think
And could not finish
They realized it was the first time

Either ever had a problem with words.

Their towns were thirty miles apart.
On and off they saw people
Mates that never seemed quite right

Even with the usual forgivenesses.

He went to rehab and succeeded
She had a child with someone she did not love
One night, the child with a sitter, she drove past his house.
There was no car in the drive
It was the same night he drove by hers

And saw only the sitter’s Datsun.

When the child was a young woman
She mentioned Suzie
And told her the story.
What happened to the boy

What was his name?

There was a funeral
They both had to attend.
He was a pallbearer
She wept into a cloth napkin.
After the words he approached her.
I’m better now, he said.
I’ve always been on your side was her reply
Almost saying
Wanting to say
At your side

Not looking at him.

Several years went by.
When he became ill
And the doctors told him
She was the first one he called
She flew back from a visit with her daughter
Julia sends her wishes
How do you feel
Right now how do you feel?
Tell me first if you are staying
This time.


                  State Park

Human gaze welcome
With conditions
At the Other’s gated nation
3 buffalo in a 3 acre pen
A waft of human breeze
Meets a simmering wave of heat
Jumpstarting the apparitions
Tilt forth to cross the Serengeti
Visions of marshmallows.
Wave crashes in at the tourist stand
Buffalo rock back and forth
Stop sideways, flatten.
Two dimensional shadow pelts
Walls of dusty knotted hides
Subdue the infiltrators.
A point of ultra dark, a side eye,
A ruminating iris
Looks not at the bag of Jet-puffed
But at you.

Tourist gleeful shouts
The door of acceptance is wide open
Even the chain link is but a door stop
You have the perfect bath soap,
Have practiced a lathering tune
Seneca comes to mind
Your master has the same power over you
As do you your slave.
You comb the knots out from your mind
One marshmallow at a time.

A scolding snout
Inflated head
Shoots a braying stem
Peace treaty
Puffy treats
Fire water
Grassland spirits
Epigenetic change
“As it affects the American Buffalo”
Gloria mundi on furry billboard
An advertisement
A bicentennial celebration,
The one eye the dollar bill eye
Certainly why not a state park
For a commemoration.


               Waiting for Us to Leave

Should have packed she said
No time he said
What about the kids
They’re dead
I knew that.

What about the poets?
No need.  We have the poetry
What about the artists?
They died.
I mean the art.
Oh it goes on you know.

Why are they looking at us like that?
They are birds, they always look like that.
Like they are waiting for something.
Keep walking.
Hold your tongue.



A yellow flag was out on the third race
When I noticed the family
Along the edge
Seven rows back from the walkway
They shared yellow popcorn
A container they had brought from home
A flour canister, red,
The square white lid sitting between the father’s
The lull got others to their feet
A stout couple with numbered jerseys
A lone old man with a railroad cap
The scarlet-cheeked woman with the apricot poodle
Who had said hi to me coming in
Thinking I was somebody else.
My partner nudged my side
Then glanced over at me
And followed my eyes
Asked me what I was thinking.
Nothing yet, I answered honestly.
What’s the yellow flag for, she asked.
I don’t know
Something on the track I suppose.

Just then the woman reached across the boy for
some popcorn
When the man turned to her
I saw that his hair was not a crew cut
But a flat top
A long ago hair style
One that marines and high school principals used to
As did my stepfather
Who I had not thought about
In maybe forty years.
The yellow flag whipped away
And the green swung toward hell
The revving motors seemed to pause for an instant
Then the harmonic pitch of the moment
Birthed the rise of all,
Clanging life,
Like the judgement of an MRI machine.
The gasoline was sweet in the air
A one to three ratio
An evocation woke the loudspeaker horns,
The apocalyptic screaming
Echoing finally across the way
The words understood by everyone and no one,
Demonstrating the limitation of the human tongue.


                            The Easy Way

Thirty years later
You are still whispering
The thirty year old problem
To one another
And only at night.
Considering this,
There is no chance
It will ever go away.
Instead, the two of you
Will open the blinds
The waning mornings as well
And let the light grow
Into your faded room
Instead of peering out
Like you would have
Were you not so afflicted.
In your favor,
You will let that light in
Because you have to,
Because you have the little bit of hope
That you can return
Blessed by the Anunnaki
To thirty years and a day
And pick up your destined rhythm.

A different thirty years,
One in the world,
Might have had you, say,
Divorcing like normal people,
Torn apart by the customary winds
That afflict the rest of us.
Or you could have had children
Or who knows,
You might have stayed together
In that common universe
And had people over for dinner,
Sitting in your parlor
Pulling rows of puzzle pieces,
The sky to the ground at the horizon
As you throttled not down, but up
And headed for an old age of peace.

So here you are,
And no one knows you exist
Except for the tax people
Who still ring your doorbell
And maybe a clerk at the corner store
If there has been a consistent one
Addressing you over the years
As you pick up whatever it is you need
To supplement your garden
And the chickens
Long descended from the pair
You had when you began
Your concealment
Over an issue
That would have passed by
Like the blackflies and aphids
Sneaking past your chickens,
Had you the fortitude…
No, not that,
But the simple acceptance
Of a fate that would blend
As all fates do
Into a diminishing
Sense of importance.

But it is the grit of mankind,
The lack of which,
That caused you,
She and he,
To take the easy way
And travel your ramp to eternity
In the presence of another
Whose only existence now
Is a mirror for you.


Upon Climbing Mount Zion

We stood toward the rear.
Pairing was mostly attitudes
The proclaimed master hikers setting out first
The last to leave, the introverts
Which put us somewhere in the middle.

Pushing through the early grade
Carrying our walking sticks
Under crook’d elbows
Our anticipation fed by the forest sounds,
As were our thoughts,
Coming and going with the breeze.
We were early Greek thespians
Opening to one another
Until we were no longer partners and wind
But ingredients
Baked in our pursuit.

The stream flowed for a time into the mountain
Moving with us as we walked,
Changing though
Different moment to moment.
It had carved the road bed below
Long before there was a road
Long before there was an Appian Way in Rome
Or Natives here, or engineers.
The water at last begged its leave,
Directing toward a lighthouse somewhere
With no boats to warn.
The flow and jettisons babbled at us for hours
As streams do, their’s being the original language,
Our own puny words apprehended
During the last seconds before midnight
On a hypothetical clock.

Small rodents and amphibians taunted
Flicking across our path
Sometimes illusional
The delusion our own
Humility will center you.
One was but a glint in the sun
Another was a black shadow

Sodom faded from our thoughts
The path turned with the rise of the mountain
The sun was not keeping up with the dew on the bushes
Earthly scented leaves reached out
We were on and off
Refreshed and bothered.
Were we an invading force
Given a tourist welcome?
We tried but could not decipher the chorus.

The leaves were several shades of green
Bright to dark
On occasion a man-made color would flash through,
People who had spent the night
Or many nights
Were coming off the mountain.
What was it like,
The passage back?
Incongruity led into insane thinking.
Was it possible for one to remain at the top
And cite human necessity
Over the wash of a rescue copter?
Who are we, anyway?

The grade began its assault
One found oneself ceding more and more.
Our voices withered,
Yielding respectfully to the resident quiet.
Our sticks thrashed lightly at the brush
The air was thinner,
The cool of elevation staying the sun.

We struck upon an odd cement path,
Wide and long,
Washed white yet dark
Our feet seeing the texture,
Our eyes refusing,
Trying instead to fill in for fallen trees.
We had been warned
By the descending
To prepare ourselves
For the insult to the mountain
By men and mules before us
To prove that we as well as nature
Were carvers of roads
Herbaceous stems worked cracks at the edges.
We pushed on with animal minds,
Feeble atonement.

We drew a map which included the sun.
Our plan, having been the summit,
Below us the valley had spread across the planet,
Green and mist as far as we could see.
No more towers on the horizon,
No more scars anywhere.
Our consensus arrived on a high note,
Though not sure what the song meant,
We slowed and considered.
I am not certain who first made the suggestion
Or the reason.
Pointless to try the summit today.
Just ahead was a ledge right for our tents.
We walked there and sat for a long time.

The valley hollowed in the setting sun
Our own fire was brief,
To warm our food.
Change affected each of us
We spoke quietly
And waited for answers,
Which came from one another
Or just as easily the woods,
A thrashing about,
The Calypso of this hill
Unable to grant us refuge.
It was that of which we spoke
As well as the valley.
We went back ten years
Then thirty
The whole of our lives.
As children we had been anxious
And had never understood why.
We realized that all men and women before us
Had been anxious as well.
It was with that reckoning
We decided to forgo the summit
And in the morning
Return to our kin and deeds.