Pound pup makes it new

Rush frantic pup out to pee
(tenth time this blustery night),
and he sits. Still. Nose to sky.

Those waving black boughs! Rustles!
Scents! Flickering petals
with stars! First drops in the eyes!
Amazing wind chimes! Moon gate
of pine! Plane! Roar!
Huge all-billowing chill world shine!

The bees, etc., one Sunday afternoon in July

There are more urgent things to do than dig
Around thirteen astilbe plants. But I’ve
Had all my sins forgiven. Pinks and reds
Clarify in the sun. Bees whirligig
As bodied angels might: they dart and dive
At flower-spires, tending what earth soon sheds.

A plane flies over, low, jet engines screaming,
Obliterating thoughts. (Planes are routine
Here, near O’Hare.) Things are as they have been
Once quiet’s back, but they’re more real-seeming.
Things are as they have been, but now the bees
Look less angelic, more like predators—
Like weapons from some video game’s strange wars
Controlled by players safe from enemies.

I push the pitchfork deep into hard ground,
As if both feet and my full weight were needed
And innocence could thereby be expressed.
Things are as they have been. Real wars abound
With players . . . Well, I’ll get the garden weeded,
However far it is from sabbath rest.

“He descended into hell”

(From the Apostles’ Creed)

This unlikely tomb
    this once plundered vault
    this meager poke of broken power
    this moldy hole in the foothills
    of Zion and of the soul
    this piddling down to fissure and fault
    this dry womb
    delivered us the earth angel
    just like us
    only wanting out more than in
    yet staying there long enough
    to cup one last beatitude
    for those in ruin
    and touch the souls of hell’s angels
    on his way here.

Salzburg, Republic of Austria, July 2006

In order not to repeat history, it is not enough to know it,
we must know ourselves, and our complicity.

Some days you have to take what you can
get, and that day my mother was too sick
to find yet one more crowded pavement café

and the worst of it was, sitting there in
my habit, I had to see it all unfold: the tired
couple with their small child, the empty table

and the promise of refreshment, and then
the waiter descending in a blaze of jeers,
scathing looks and torrid gestures, and watch

the husband and wife gather their dignity
and leave, unwelcome only for the offense
of resembling too much the enemy du jour

and I had nowhere to go to, nowhere to
hide my shame, no means of protest when
the waiter returned and served us sweetly,

set the coffee before me, and the only way
I could ask is a veil any better than a chador?
was to say, simply, Dankeschön

Questions for God

Why does the moon seem so intent to cry,
and yet it is your tears that give us dew?
Why do the flags grasp silently at wind?
Why does the sun refuse to let me stare,
and yet it is your hand upon my face
that burns? Why does my mother die
without remembering my name, while she
still sings in church? Why does the IV bag
float like my prayer does in this emptiness?
Where was it that I lost my way? Why do
I see the cross in window panes, in two
downed branches broken in the road, in shirts
hung out to dry? Why does the mystery
of faith sustain us when we keep on asking
such questions? Why must we ask such questions?