Poetry - September, 2010


On being asked to pray

I think once again about your brother
and sister-in-law, god-awful uncertainty
as they await the news. I almost hear
their parental oath, or nearly so since
the legal process started with his birth,
this infant boy they're hoping to adopt
who's been exposed to heroin and meth.
How much so they don't know yet,
but expect the tox screens will soon appear,
announcing extent and consequence.

Till then their prayers are ample, open
to inscrutable will, yet not remotely serene.
The couple's caught up in their frequency.
Naturally they're solicitous to gain
everyone's lifted pleading, fruitful and keen.
So when asked if I will pray, I sense
it's the least, potently least, I can do
as they do their best outside the NICU.
So blessings upon your family, both
immediate and extended. (I mean

your family, but then again the prayers too,
lifted by air across hope's mezzanine.)


Green studies

I like the way that shrubs and flowers
lean against my classroom windows
as if wanting to enroll. What would the azalea
say when asked about the Forest of Arden?
And would the red, red rose respond
to my mistress' eyes as something,
after all, like the sun? What's not to like
in these my vernal, budding pupils—
so firmly rooted in this soil, so curiously
intertwined? My vegetable love should grow
with each new bell of earnest fragrance,
fair and passing fair, each one.
As Eve once more eats of that fruit,
I hear their universal groan.


To manifest and manifest

To be open to receive the spirit.
Easily said: just writing down these words.
But it may not come as we would have it
in some Byzantine icon of the Christ,
Buddha rotund in my neighbor's yard,
a thousand Muslim men salaamed in prayer.
It may have to appear in ugliness.
Today out of a sky black, cold and hard
as onyx I still had the vision come.
It was the bird we all call tomorrow.
You know the one: you saw it as a child.
It came to you the first dawn you saw light
and found the word for it: the huge not-you.
You stood up in your crib. It spoke to you.


Sensitivity to initial conditions

Put the words close enough.
Closer than that, even closer

so that one breath
will make the other turn
and the other turn
                              and say

and the wind break this leaf
from its stem, not the other

and make a cup for the dew
in the shade where the sun
won't dry it

where the bird stops to drink
as your son waits, pointing
"birdie, birdie" and

you snap the picture, the one
where his smile is like
the first time anyone ever smiled

and its place in the frame on your desk
makes you wonder why
you don't write poems
                                    about this.