Table of |
One day you wake up feeling foul
as the moody dog next door,
almost always sweet, but then here it comes
rising to its feet stalking-slow, baring its teeth,
greeting you with a low, razor-wind
blowing from its throat, as you walk
up the porch stairs, lazily saying,
“What’s gotten into you today?”
I should say those words to myself,
times when like that dog I’m cross-eyed
and won’t be put off. Then, my friend’s barking
back at me ‘cause I’m tugging at a frayed sleeve,
and we go digging up all the buried bones
of things we almost always know not to say.
Gone with the World
God was palpably present in the country,
and the devil had gone with the world to town. Thomas Hardy
We drive down to the city
when we can no longer bear
paradise. We’re just not good
enough to sit in the perfect
room Gods and evolution made
so perfectly for us.
Bent on mischief and sport,
we spend more than we can afford;
our heads turned by bright trifles
and the un-kegged laughter
of beer and whiskey poured.
We lend our voices, loud and louder,
to stories and songs with teeth
but no nail-biting.
We make toasts and coax
out every churlish notion and burlesque,
every rumor and nastiness
that might keep the bow rosined.
But alas, last call comes and so we go;
the door locking behind us.
Outside, the deserted streets
are so quiet we hear the hum
of the light above us and our steps
struggling back toward grace.
Even as drunkenness fades,
we remain uncertain of the way,
wary of the world’s fragile state
and our unsteady place in it.
A Beauty We Fear
You couldn’t burn the blame. Tim O’Brien
The dark rose up as I walked down
to the meadow, where that morning
I found a nest yellow jackets had buried
beneath an Asian pear tree. If not destroyed
with care’s hand, they’d menace my fall
claim to the apple-shaped pears.
That morning, beneath knowing and sight,
I had driven a gray fertilizer spike through
the buzzing heart of their hive. A crazed spiral
raged up from underground, a loud,
black belch winding out from Beelzebub’s mouth.
Two stingers caught and set fire to one arm,
as I ran back the way I’d come, terror
driving the swarm and my heart.
Returning that night to fight fire
with a quick splash of kerosene
and the strike and fling of a wooden match,
I watched Hades consume the hive,
burning it alive and into my pulse – nest
of hexes, village of huts, wheel around a hub.
Then, like an uncured log, memory
spit up sparks and a young man’s silhouette -
armed and waiting at a far Vietnam gate.
It was the time of day the French, who’d failed
at Quang Tri before us, call hour between
the dog and wolf. We waited for our eyes
to accept the dark and our hearts their witness.
Then, moved out to destroy a beauty we feared.
What calm can calm, then, after horror
sprawls like stars across dark’s fields of fire?