December 2014-February 2015

The September-November 2012 entry included poems based on my travelling, be it for business or pleasure. Origins on Galapagos, Out of Close Range, and On Andean Time are a continuation. Location wise, the first relates to the Ecuadorian islands, the second to a wildlife photo safari in Kenya, Africa, the third to springtime fishing in the Andes mountains of Chile.

 Origins on Galapagos

 

Lucky ducks, though they’re terns,
that can always bank on
a cornucopia surfacing around them—
marooned onshore pools
with kelp, eelgrass, crabs
clinging to the bottom…

Their ancestors also fared well,
as per my post mortem memory.
Enough to establish a flock of birds
with blood lines tied to flowing tides.
My kind died out long ago,
overcome by an unstable volcano.
Had our wings been bigger
we’d have flown off the island;
or swam away if we’d known how.

Likewise, I can recall when
the first newcomber was spotted
poking around one sunrise.
He appeared alone, but as the sky shined
others showed up, mouthing sounds
like “right here” and “Dr. Darwin.”
Each day they arrived early, left
after hovering over scores of nests.

Naturally, they never saw a feather
nor heard us chirping.
We were no more than a body of ashes
left behind like lava—the darkest part
of the sand they stepped on
while doing their legwork
up and down dunes.
They came close, though,
those curious creatures
that ran around
after every tern.

Out of Close Range

 

The cheetahs parched, hyenas hoarse,
plodding pods of antelopes,
as a two o’clock sun smelts the veldt.
Between them and the river, men with rifles,
lots of bullets, time on their side, hide
behind a blind made from mud, woven reeds.

Not far off, nor much later, a zebra appears.
He’s all white with a black mane
that looks like wings.
The hunters‘ll shoot high
if he flies by, low if he trods.
One way or another they can’t miss,
unless it’s a mirage.

 

On Andean Time

 

By degrees, the lower slopes turn
into a kaleidoscope—
on one side, blue mingles with white—
a split image of the sky.
On the other, yellow flashes—
as bright as sunlight…

In winter these slopes look like
the rest of the mountain—
no flowers blooming out
of season, only near and far
the cold glow of snow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September-November 2014

The three poems selected for this posting relate to the concerns of work. Seasonal Unemployment and How to Succeed in Apiculture were written during the last years of my professional life. They seem to comment on the process whereas The Industrialization of Silk  critiques means and ends. It was completed during the first months of my retirement, in plenty of time!

For readers who would like to hear a poem,  I have recorded a sound file of Seasonal Unemployment. Clicking on the triangle initiates playback.

Seasonal Unemployment [Download]

Seasonal Unemployment

 

Once I was a scarecrow
with acres of corn in my care.
I watched generations of seeds
grow up and flourish.
They made me feel alive.

Since then, with each harvest
leaving me less to do,
more to reflect on,
it´s becoming
as clear as clouds
that I´m no longer
needed by the farmer
who made me his
stand in.

Now, autumn´s night frost
freeze dries my stitches,
and every day almost
winter winds pick them apart.
Limb by limb, I´m losing
all my inner support:
straw´s running out,
a broomstick’s severed.

In a barn, somewhere,
there´s a man
weighing his good fortune.
And here I am — over the hill,
facing a field full
of nothing.

 

How to Succeed in Apiculture

 

Plenty of bees swarming around
his hive, others flying in,
and out…

With veiled enthusiasm,
he’s there to take stock of the boxes,
prying not to upset any
while looking for honeycombs.
Those chosen for culling
should be found dripping, larger
than a man’s hands.
For stowing, his back’s
strapped with a knapsack
which, like always,
should soon be bulging;
by the end of summer,
much too small.

As for the bees, they’d
be a wild bunch without him;
their nest no more than a batch
of wax branching from a tree
nowhere near this pasture sown
with rye and clover.

The Industrialization of Silk

 

One summer, with the Empire in full bloom,
the mulberry trees stood leafless,
their branches alive with
tea colored cocoons.
Legend says that some fell
into a bucket of boiling water,
ending up as threads ready for weaving.

The first bolt was rushed to Court—
a fabric so fine it tingled, so light
it fluttered from hand to hand.
Finally, after much discussion
and no consensus, the Emperor decreed
that only nobles who paid taxes
could trade in silk.
He also forbade exporting
the eggs, with good reason…
Outside his realm, rulers
were as greedy as thieves,
and ruthless.

That was millenniums ago.
Now all sorts of bolts, from crepe
to taffeta, are produced, worldwide,
on high-speed looms. And thanks to genetics,
the larvae eat less, grow faster, spin
larger cocoons. Even the dirty work
of boiling is automated; no longer
done by artisans on a small scale.
Given today’s growing demand for silk,
the worms need to be massacred.

June-August 2014

“The Likes of Master Shimu’s Artistry,” “Museum Pieces,” and “Priorities in Perfect Practice,” (Three by 3: September-November 2013, March-May 2013 ) were written in English. A friend, Edward Shaw, whose resume includes working as a journalist for the Buenos Aires Herald and the author of many publications on Latin American art, culture and politics, kindly translated them into Spanish.

To facilitate comparison, each original is followed by its translation.

The Likes of Master Shimu’s Artistry

A stream springs up.
Ribbons of currents sparkle
as they curl around rocks;
turning, by late afternoon,
into the deep water
of a long, dark pool.

There and then, its slowly
moving surface features
the likes of Master Shimu
searching for shade
along the bambooed bank.
Are those his eyes
floating among the green leaves
whisked off by the wind?

An eddy enters the picture.
Soon the leaves are drawn
towards it, branching
away on separate waves.
Also, within drifting
distance, the bottom
appears again.

Las semejanzas de la calidad artística del Maestro Shimu

Un arroyo surge.
Cintas de corrientes relumbran
mientras que serpentean por las rocas;
virando, al atardecer,
hacia las aguas profundas
de un charco largo y oscuro.

Allá y en ese momento, sobre la superficie
en lento movimiento, se destaca
la semejanza del Maestro Shimu
buscando sombra
a lo largo de la ribera cubierta de bambú.
¿Son aquellos sus ojos
flotando entre el follaje verde
arrebatados por el viento?

Un remolino entra a la escena.
De repente las hojas son arrastradas
hacia él, dividiéndose en ramas
sobre olas separadas.
También, dentro de la distancia que flotan,
el fondo reaparece.

Él ha visto lo suficiente, sin embargo,
por un día pleno;
entre reflejos
y el espejo que los separan…

Es hora
de dejar que seque la acuarela.

Museum Pieces

    for Nora

          1

The art in this room
should share a single statement.
It’s supposed to say something
about belonging together,
though every painting
hangs on its own merits.

Now picture the place without them:
nothing would stand out.
Not even art lovers
with high standards.

          2

Where do we figure?
Your eyes are searching.
Are they clear about us?
Look at it this way-
as a whole, we’re already
a work in progress.
The problem’s with perspective-
you don’t see us
coming any closer
than walls apart
within the same gallery.
You’re on the side of still lives
while I’m aligned
with moving portraits.
What’s missing is a meeting
space for both genres-
a middle ground
between back and fore.

Piezas del Museo

   Para Nora

          1.

El arte de esta sala
debe compartir una única declaración,
supuestamente debe decir algo
en relación a una pertenencia común,
aunque cada pintura
cuelga por sus propios méritos.

Ahora imagínense el lugar sin ellas:
nada destacaría,
ni los amantes del arte
con pautas enaltecidas.

          2.

¿Dónde figuramos nosotros?
Tus ojos buscan.
¿Lo tienen claro al respecto?
Mírenlo así-
Como una totalidad, ya somos
una obra en proceso.
El problema es con la perspectiva—
no nos ven
acercándonos más
que paredes apartadas
dentro de la misma galería.
Tú estás del lado de las naturalezas muertas
mientras que yo me encuadro
con los retratos emotivos.
Lo que falta encontrar es un espacio
de reunión para ambos géneros—
un terreno intermedio
entre atrás y adelante.

 

Priorities in Perfect Practice

Not only a metronome
plays a key role…

At the piano
sits a virtuoso.
He’ll tackle anything…

Note the ivory steps.
They slope upward,
towards a dream door.
He’s rhapsodizing
over which riff
might make
a break thru.
Also, what will it sound like?

In real life
a living room
houses him.
The walls wear ears.
They eavesdrop
on steady solos.
Likewise, a low
ceiling listens in.

Those are his
full scale critics,
besides a
small metronome
ticking away
on a table.
That’s their measure
for trying out
latent talent.
All he has to do
is follow along.
Whether the door
will wind up opening
hinges on him.
As to when is up to them.

Prioridades de la Práctica Perfecta

No solo un metrónomo
juega un papel estelar…

Al piano
está sentado un virtuoso.
El es capaz de emprender todo…

Tome nota de los escalones de marfil.
Se inclinan hacia arriba,
hacia una puerta de ensueño.
Con rapsodia, considera
cual ‘riff’ podrá producir
una ruptura.
También, ¿cómo sonará?

En la vida real
un living
lo hospeda.
Las paredes visten orejas.
Escuchan furtivamente
los solos uniformes.
Asimismo, un cielorraso bajo
escucha a hurtadillas.

Esto es la escala completa
de sus críticos,
a parte de un pequeño metrónomo
que va marcando el paso
sobre una mesa.
Ésta es su medida
de experimentar
el talento latente.
La única cosa que tiene que hacer
es seguir.
Si la puerta termina abriéndose
gira sobre el gozne de él mismo.
El cuándo, depende de ellos.

March-May 2014

The December 2013 posting presented three of the six poems from the open ended series, “Scruples”. The poems in this March posting are a continuation.

For readers who would like to hear them,  I have recorded sound files of 4 and 5. Clicking on the triangle initiates listening playback. 

Scruples 4 [Download]
 
Scruples 5 [Download]

            4. 
        
At first, the youth
could barely twitter his flute…
He´d need years of practice
to grow up,
          into a musician.

One of the streams in the forest
edged a glade.
Kindred spirits gathered there.
While he soloed, they chirped, croaked,
even hissed.

His pluck and striving
                     pleased the gods.
They´d never overheard a mortal so hip 
                     at such a tender age.
Only Dionysus didn’t listen. No
              boy could play
country like his kid, Pan.

 

        5.

The rules of this boardinghouse’re
etched in stone.
We can’t miss the tablets—
they stand on
eye level shelves in the parlor—
one for does,
the other donts.

Our landlord lets rooms to strangers.
He’s in the business
of saving souls.

              6.

In Medieval times wives wore
chastity belts when their spouses
weren’t around. All were leather bound
and lockable…some lined with silk,
others  bejeweled.

The keys were custom made
from precious metals.
If her husband was a noble,
he’d have chosen gold; gilded
with their family crest.

Women were deemed the weaker sex;
fair prey for troubadours wandering
from castle to castle, waxing poetically
about forbidden fruit.
They were also musicians who could
make a lute sound sweeter
than plums, as bitter as quince.

                          

December 2013 - February 2014

After retiring in 2000, I continued living in Rio de Janeiro. My free time activities remained the same. An add on was volunteer work for a neighborhood civic organization.

One the poems I wrote was conceived of as an open ended work. “Scruples” now totals six entries: two from 2004, three from 2005, and the latest from 2006.

This posting to three by 3  comprises the first three. Each is a thematically linked free standing poem  The next three will be posted in the March-May 2014 installment.

For readers who would like to hear the poems,  I have recorded sound files of 1 and 2. Clicking on the triangle initiates listening playback.     

Scruples 1 [Download]
 
Scruples 2 [Download]

    Scruples

                  1.

Last night a meteorite fell
on our lawn. It´s as big
as a birdbath, but not
smooth, round, or white—
almost pitch black and
deeply furrowed.

In the spring they come
weekly, without much warning.
So far, none´ve hit a house,
just backyards.
This one landed damn near
our rose garden.
Thank heavens it missed.

                  2.

The gate opens wide
because you oiled the hinges.
Now even a breeze can easily
come and go.

But what about the latch?
Rusty…a spring´s missing…
another in pieces…
Tomorrow, next week, month,
it might fall off,
locking you in, or out.

                  3.

Lazarus is alive. He’s eating breakfast
with his sisters. On the table
there’s fresh fruit, hot bread,
enough tea for everyone, including
well wishers who’ll soon
be swarming in like locusts.

Mary and Martha are crying,
but not for joy. He’s sorrier
than they could ever be…
says he was on the way to heaven
before it turned back to Bethany,
that their meddling in his afterlife
did more harm than good.

First published in Mixed Nerve

September-November 2013

Come summertime in the United States, I often visited my parents who lived in a small, artistically minded town on Long Island. Showing at a local art was an exhibit, The World of Lighthouses, with each piece a miniturized, ceramic replica of its progenitor. “By Design and On Purpose” was inspired by the feat.

Though the locus of  “The Likes of Master Shimu’s Artistry” is oriental, I have never travelled that far east. Only my imagination did.

On one of my  business trips to Buenos Aires, Argentina, I was introduced to an artist by friends. She and I began a relationship which lasted as long as it could. “Museum Pieces” attempts to say in words what I/She/We might have seen in each other.

By Design and On Purpose

                 For Leslie Kingston  

Lighthouses are put there to stay.
In no way should they
at any time, go off fishing,
out for lunch, look forward
to holidays—none on the horizon.
If they did, who’d warn boats
about local currents,
which ones spit shoals
which  braid channels?

Likewise, lighthouses are put there to last.
Above all, they’re trussworthy spines
of steel rolled in concrete—
tons of each—raised to face
sunstroke one day, wind bites another,
no turning away
from whatever the weather wants.
How long should they soar?
As big and bright as possible
without much upkeep:
between seasons
a change of lenses,
lamps nightly,
after blackouts, new fuses.

On paper—technically blueprints—
lighthouses are rendered
with reliability in mind.
From top down, they’re designed
to hold their ground,
stand fast on a cliff
or bluff, be seen
for miles, over and over.

The Likes Of Master Shimu’s Artistry

A stream springs up.
Ribbons of currents sparkle
as they curl around rocks;
turning, by late afternoon,
into the deep water
of a long, dark pool.

There and then, its slowly
moving surface features
the likes of Master Shimu
searching for shade
along the bambooed bank.
Are those his eyes
floating among the green leaves
whisked off by the wind?

An eddy enters the picture
Soon the leaves are drawn
towards it, branching
away on separate waves.
Also, within drifting
distance, the bottom
appears again.

He’s seen enough, though,
for a full day;
between reflections
and the mirror between them…

It’s time
to let the watercolor dry.

First published in The Montserrat Review

Museum Pieces

           for Nora

             1

The art in this room
should share a single statement.
It’s supposed to say something
about belonging together,
though every painting
hangs on its own merits.

Now picture the place without them:
Nothing would stand out.
Not even art lovers
with high standards.

             2

Where do we figure?
Your eyes are searching.
Are they clear about us?
Look at it this way—
as a whole, we’re already
a work in progress.
The problem’s with perspective—
you don’t see us
coming any closer
than walls apart
within the same gallery.
You’re on the side of still lives
while I’m aligned
with moving portraits.
What’s missing is a meeting
space for both genres—
a middle ground
between back and fore.

First published in 2River View

June-August 2013

Feliz Cumpleaños, Feliz Aniversário,  Happy Birthday!  Three by 3  is one year young!

So, for the occasion, this posting is comprised of  poems written after June 2012, the launching date of the site.

“Re-Possessed”  was begun in early 2012 and finished mid year.  A version of  ” This Pawnbroker Is Worth Your While” was written in 2008, revised in 2012, and published in 2013.  “A Cabaret Called Janus” was writtten in late 2012.

 

                                          Re- Possessed

 

                                        By dawn any vampire still prowling around
                                                                                        is as good as doomed.
                                        It’s his turn to run scared,
                                                                              faster than the speed of daylight,
                                                                                         toward an abandoned graveyard…

                                         The name on the gate belongs to a family that lived
                                                                                            high and mighty  in yonder castle.

                                         He’s their last of kin. Has been since the serfs went
                                                                                        on a rampage, breaking in,
                                                                                               looting, armed with knives
                                                                                                                        and scythes.

                                         Hiding in the cemetery saved him.  An angel or devil had them
                                                                                                  combing the forest, until rain
                                                                                                             and darkness finally fell,
                                                                                                                      ending the threat.

                                         Then came the Count’s revenge. On moonless nights he rises
                                                                                               to the occasion: blazing red eyes,
                                                                                                   hand grown claws, fanged like a bat,
                                                                                                             shrouded in a hooded cloak.

                                         Some die of fright, others bled to death. Either way appeases him.
                                                                                                   What the serfs sowed, so
                                                                                                        shall they reap. All of them.

                                         His down time’s spent in a coffin. It lies low, but not buried,
                                                                                                    under a bush by the gate…
                                                                                                              as a whole, beyond suspicion.

                                         Once inside, he can rest on his laurels, sleep off the craving
                                                                                                     that drove him to drink, wake up
                                                                                                             feeling like a new man.

 

                                    This Pawnbroker Is Worth Your While 

 

 

 A sign on the door reads
 welcome in several languages;
 another says OPEN, most of the time.

 Ready to enter?
 Lots of watches in the window:
 silver, gold, old new…
 all ticking it’s now
 or never.

 Neon arrows point out
 where appraisals are done:
 up front, by the owner,
 free of charge, no questions asked.
 They pulse off and on,
 turning white as a halo
 around their target.

                                      First published in sandhill review

 

 

       A Cabaret Called Janus

 

    Downstairs, posters flatter the lobby
    with a wall of fame.
    Highlighted by a chandelier,
    one star shines after another,
    starting from left to right.

 

    The man in the dressing room
    looks like the magician
    among them.
    He’s wearing a white tux, matching
    cape and sash, fake mustache,
    same pearl turban.
    The poster also shows him
    waving a wand of lightning
    over a fiery hoop.

 

     On weekends he appears
     after midnight, prime time
     for a full house.
     His fans watch closely,
     never miss a trick.

      Soon a blinking buzzer
      will upstage the mirror.
      By then he should be
      all made up, or not.

 

 

 

.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March-May 2013

Music to one’s own ears may not sound the same to another’s.  Argentina dances to the Tango,  Brazil carnivals with the Samba,  no country can outcumbia Colombia…

During a business trip to Quito, Ecuador, I wrote the first draft of  “Priorities in Perfect Practice”.  My hotel was near an artisan market  where the prevalent language was Quechua  and the music Andean.  I bought a flute called a quena as a souvenir. We bartered in Spanish.

Much of Rio de Janeiro is bordered by water, be it bay or ocean. ” An Octopus On A Blue Note”  made landfall via my imagination.

An executive that worked for  my company was also an accomplished night club style singer. She arranged  “Metamorphosis” in English and Portuguese and recorded the English  version as a track  on her first CD.  Listen to the audio or download:  

Metamorphosis [Download]

Priorities in Perfect Practice

Not only a metronome
plays a key role…

At the piano
sits a virtuoso.
He’ll tackle anything…

Note the ivory steps.
They slope upward,
towards a dream door.
He’s rhapsodizing
over which riff
might make
a break thru.
Also, what will it sound like?

In real life
a living room
houses him.
The walls wear ears.
They eavesdrop
on steady solos.
Likewise, a low
ceiling listens in.

Those are his
full scale critics,
besides a
small metronome
ticking away
on a table.
That’s their measure
for trying out
latent talent.
All he has to do
is follow along.
Whether the door
will wind up opening
depends on him.
As to when is up to them.

First published in Octavo

                         An Octopus On a Blue Note

An octo with a banjo
bangs out just jazz.
He’s deep…two, three
leagues below sea level.
He’s cool—groovy
in a marine green grotto.

But when the tide’s high,
he jams under a jetty.
Currents meet there.
Together they wreak waves
which swinging swimmers
can crawl to, and
“scuba, dubi,  do, man,”
sometimes beat out.

First published in A Little Poetry

Metamorphosis

Night is shrinking
into a colony of shadows.
Awakening,
you feel yourself peeling away
a stranger’s wardrobe.
As the chrysalis cracks,
more  than morning rises.
Marveling
at your latest likeness
you must wonder who
was clinging to the trellis
at midnight, or
whether it really wasn’t a dream.
For a change,
a butterfly
is taking flight.

Singrar, Sailing Songs
©Nicole Borger

 

December 2012 - February 2013

Some critters show up in my poetry. I accept the blame when they behave badly. Hopefully, a closer reading will bring out the good, better, and best in them.

The poems were written in the sequence presented. The first dates from 1998, the last, 2002.

 

A Trial By Fire and Brimstone

                   1

Admit you did it, scorpion.
Now tell why.
Our case shows
that late last night
on a deserted
desert floor
the tumbleweeds
took up dancing.
Partners shook loose.
Down and around they bounced,
backwards and so forth.
And as the sands
shifted, a stand
of cacti started whistling.

               2

We have witnesses
who wouldn’t lie.
They overheard
your cayote cronies
crooning along.
Likewise they listened
to holed up rattlers
joining in underground.
A hot beat sounded
from their shaky tails.
Then their heads
surfaced all around.
like metronomes.

              3

As our only suspect
where were you
when shooting stars
singed the sky?
At sunrise,
the sheriff pinched you
red handed
rummaging thru his boots.
Still, you swear
that the wicked wind
blew you there
after the brimstone
downed our town.

Doom it.
An alibi like that
ain’t worth a dime.
We’re just wasting time.
Anyway, unwritten laws’ll
have the last word.
With squashing on the spot
a sure sentence.

First published in Poetry Magazine

 

    Wolfish

              1

Critters caught off guard —
then, one, two, three…
we’re as hungry as wolves can be —
which should give the shepherd
something to stew over
once it dawns on him
who sheared down
his flock.

Such goodness on the hoof
standing out
oh so soft and white
under the moonlight
makes them clearly
much more appealing
than any holed up hares,
harder to snare, tough to eat.
There’s also a corral around them,
obliging outsiders
to either leer longingly,
or find a gate
which can be pawed open
without raising a bleat.

              2

“Brute evil’s out there,”
the shepherd bellows
while stomping his staff.
“See how it fared
during the dread of night,
disguised as darkness,
invisible to the innocent.”
He calls us sly devils,
even though we’re wolves
specialized in cunning.

Hiding behind a hedge
listening to his mad mouthing,
we’re far too full
to howl out who’s wrong.
Meanwhile, on branches,
early birds’re chirping and singing.
What music for our forked ears —
enough to lull us
into lying low for a while,
counting fewer sheep
to fall asleep.

If the Beast’s Only a Branch

 

See what I’m saying, son?
Look at the thicket — yes,
on the left, near the river,
loaded with mangos…
There’s an alligator in one
of the trees…
Maybe it’s lost, stranded… could
be hungry.
Oh, you’d rather know more
about where than why…
Such a skeptic I’ve raised —
enough, at times, to make me
wish you’d been born after adolescence,
or, even better,
had already outlived it.
How about taking the path
that skirts the river?
The sun’d be behind us,
the trees so close
we could smell the mangos.
They’re my favorite fruit — and
if the beast’s only a branch,
you can pick some for lunch.
The sweetest grow on top.

September-November 2012

Vice versa in verse could apply to the poems “The Last Judgment”  and “Mining”.  The former was written first.  “Mining”  is an alternative version. It was finished six months after the original’s publication.

I often extended my business trips with a  holiday. The Andean mountain regions of Chile and Argentina combined world class fishing with awe inspiring settings. “The Right Time/Right Place?” was written in Rio de Janeiro, my tropical home base residence.  The contrast was no coincidence.

The Last Judgment

 

Now lighter. Less tunnel.
After such a stunning stroke
the miner chisels in his chip list
another smash hit.
What’s in the works is a way out
of a tight spot with too little air,
lots of close calls…

Likewise, he’s steeped the shaft
in so much dust
that its bats are baffled.
They’re stuck to the ceiling
with their radar down.
Some heavy handed busy body
has low blowed them.

Indeed, he overhears wide scale
screeching above and beyond
his loudest footfalls.
On what grounds does it sound-
his heart pounding like a tom-tom,
bloody upset by their uproar.

Yes, there’s been prowess
in picking out a passage
which hasn’t caved in
as a matter of course.
Besides his list
booming with breakthroughs,
a clear cut tunnel leads him
to believe hard times
have had their heyday;
and that nearer than later
his undertaking should unearth
a man-size hole in the world.

But back to those bats…
Where will he stand with them
once the dust settles?
Is it a good move
to hold that might’s right
if they’ve been wronged?
When, after all, he aims
to strike ahead
and not at flying fangs.

Otherwise, he could say, “Sorry,”
owning up to having raised
an awful amount of fallout
along with dwindling darkness.
His impact’s been rough on them-
perhaps more than on the rocks
demeaned to smithereens.
In their eyes, blind as always,
he’s almost guilty.
Much better’d be a fairer hearing.
Let them listen to his lofty
pitch for innocence.
Just enough to keep
a hung jury from rebounding

First published in Kimera

 

Mining

 

Now lighter. Less tunnel…
After every stroke
the miner chisels in his chip list
another smash hit.
In the work’s a way out
of a tight spot with little air,
walls on all sides.

He’s also struck up
so much dust its bats are baffled.
They’re stuck to the ceiling
with their radar down.
He’s been rough on them,
maybe more than on the rocks
reduced to rubble.

Despite booming breakthroughs,
his man-made hole in the world
hasn’t led him to believe
that hard times’ve had their heyday.
There’s still a passage, unbroken,
slightly brighter than before, open
ended, stretching ahead.

But what about the bats?
The harder he hammers,
the shriller their shreiking.
For them the tunnel’s too full
of fallout, incoming light.
Short of breath, going blind,
almost deaf, they’ve had enough
of him and his growing shadow.

 

The Right Place/Right Time?

                    1.

How is he for souvenirs,
after a holiday booked on fancy?
As a bungling tourist that ranked high
against mammoth mountains,
ranging over ups and downs?
Where drifts favored
bumper crops of rocky rises,
stout hearted goats,
and no-go vertigo.

                 2.

In a drawing room’s manner:
mahogony sombered by lamplight,
an antique desk
standing in the corner.
Nearby, a clock topping
the mantle  ticks off the hour,
finding him reading his diary.
On a sixteenth century table
sit four tomes of Tolstoy
and a chip of granite.
The latter now as out of place
as  he was, with the wind
whistling through his mittens.

First published in The Lucid Stone

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