Sunday, April 29, 2012


a jumbled parade
of passers-by
with legs scissoring
and heads held high,
an endless dizzy
circus show
of strangers
I will never know

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


[From Memoirs of an Ordinary Guy]

Jerome was a sincere and affable fellow. With his good-natured smile, he was ever eager to engage in conversation with anyone he happened to meet. He was quite articulate when he spoke, despite the severe brain injury he had received as a teenager. The deep scar was still visible on his left scalp where his hair never fully grew back in.

The house he rented while he attended university smelled of dust and old bananas. It had no interior doors, so blankets were nailed to the tops of the doorframes to serve the purpose. A single flickering floor lamp illumined the living room in which sat a threadbare couch, a number of unpacked cardboard boxes, and a large aquarium with brown water and no fish. On the couch, a scrawny mounted deer head stared up at the ceiling, waiting patiently to be hung upon the wall.

We sat on folding lawn chairs around a flimsy metal TV tray and played chess. Jerome, with his eyes gleaming, meticulously set up the black pieces on his side of the board. After I had finished setting up the white pieces, he corrected the positions of my king and queen with a small chuckle and said something about "queen on her own color."

We then waged tabletop warfare and ate Sun-Maid raisins from little boxes. He spoke of his mother, who taught school back in Cleveland, and of his cat Groucho, who had to be left behind. At times, he also made odd references to Darth Vader, in connection with certain moves I made in the game, which he obviously found very amusing. I laughed as if I understood.

Jerome had a firm grasp of the strategy of chess, which I did not. I soon realized why he had so eagerly invited me to play. After several moves that proved unwise on my part, he forced me into giving up my queen to protect my king and my game swiftly unraveled from there. As the light outside grew dimmer, he deftly brought me to checkmate between one of his knights and his queen. He looked up and smiled, obviously pleased with the outcome. He shook my hand heartily saying "good game, good game." I congratulated him on the win and remarked that we would have to have a rematch soon.

As I rose to leave, the telephone rang in the kitchen. After he answered it, I heard him say "Hey Mom," and then, "hold on, ok?"

He looked over to me as I was approaching the door and said "Later Vader." I waved and smiled, and opened the door into the late September twilight.

As I was closing the door behind me, I heard him say, "Oh, I was just saying bye to my best friend Todd."

I smiled to myself and wondered at him saying that because I had only met him just that day.

I looked out upon the darkening world. High clouds were streaked across a fading florescent sky. Headlights and taillights shone brightly along Fort Avenue as the last of the tardy streetlamps blinked awake. The smell of grilling food was on the cool breeze and I paused to imagine from what sort of gathering it drifted.

I approached my little Honda Civic, which was slumbering there in the shadows. The traffic was light as I drove home.

Monday, April 23, 2012

This tender alchemy

Behold the world, a simple fire
beyond the windows of our eyes
prismed through so many facets
arranged in lucent tapestries
and charged with precious metal photons
which create, like a Midas of sorts, 
golden treasures where the light touches
but without the curse, this tender alchemy
transmutes the wide and raging universe,
down to the subatomic galaxies spinning,
into incitements for a blissful joy
richly blazing in a single flame,
in the simple fire that is the world.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I was your photographer

[Excerpted from The Journal of Harold Jacobson, c. 1926]

With delicate fingers
you smoothed
brown tresses
behind your ear
and sweetly smiled
as if
at me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Saturday morning downtown

The chill wind in the streets smells of rain.
A plastic bag glides down the sidewalk
looking for her lost children.
With white nightgown fluttering unheeded,
she passes by unhandsome office buildings
which, being bored by the day's quietude,
are staring into each other's thoughtless eyes.

A big meat-necked man is walking his Pomeranian
while pensively smoking a fresh cigarette.
A young woman with perfect posture jogs by
wielding a formidable length of mop handle.

The five-day forecast calls for the rain to settle in by noon
and to linger until Monday morning.
The pavement is currently as dry as that big man's hacking cough.

A particularly strong gust rushes through with vehemence.
In swift and graceful flight, the implacable mother ascends,
like a freed revenant, towards the grey and churning heavens
to see if perchance her dear ones are there.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Cliff-face Gentleman

The cliff-face gentleman has missing teeth,
which lay now in the surging creek below.
One by one loosened by the passing seasons,
each succumbed to gravity and fell away.

He can see them down there, silent and aloof,
underneath the bright and crystalline current.
Eventually they will all be pushed downstream
never to be seen by his stony eyes again.

With a gaping frown, he peers down forever
as the night-shadows deepen upon him.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Train Ride

Cold raindrop tears are sliding across the window,
blurring the bucolic Minnesota scenery:
barns and silos, trees and fences,
mournful fields of brittle cornstalks.
The cows, having grown weary of passing trains,
turn their horned heads absently away.

The sky has been grey now for over a week.
The rain had stopped once, during the wedding,
only to return and soak us all outside the church
waving farewell to the bride and groom.

They seemed to be such a happy couple:
she, with rosy cheeks and dimpled elbows,
floated in euphoria on the arm of her beloved
who, although red-faced from all the attention,
merrily grinned with all his teeth.

The world is looking brighter outside my window;
the sun has worked its way around the clouds.
We pass by golden fields of dancing wheat
rejoicing in the warmth of the widening sunshine.
The train pulls into the station at Hastings;
two more stops and I will be home.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Nepenthe Spring

In breezes thick with the sweetness
of pollen-incense, all is forgiven.
The chills of winter offenses
are no longer brought to mind
in a land richly fragranced
with such tokens of vitality.
The nepenthe nectar rising
into these rigid tree-bones
returns fresh and vibrant vigour
to a divested and stricken world,
long lain as if in a frigid tomb.
This golden wine of Spring
brings abundant solace
as every frozen recollection
melts swiftly away!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Seine is a tale-bearer

The Seine is a tale-bearer,
though glittering in diamond innocence.
The wolds all about her banks
brim with the warbling words
of little tongues lapping the shallow shores.
Tall grasses, half-submerged
and with heads hot in the golden air,
rustle in sudden gusts like whispered secrets.
Château Gaillard sits in silence,
like a ruined lover,
and believes every word she hears.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Eternal Clepsydra

Countless hourglasses are spilled out here
upon the farthest edge of substantial earth
where bitter waters tumble in endless array
and forever sift the decaying sands of time.
Scattered wide upon this golden shore
are intricately molded cogwheels and gears,
springs and pulleys, weights and pendulums,
the dislocated intestines of a million clocks,
like bronze and copper mollusk-shards 
eroded and rusted, battered and broken
grated and ground until they are no more.