Poetry

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Il Sait

He knew
The names of pick-up trucks
And brands of dishwashers,
What time the sun would rise
Tomorrow or next Tuesday,
That the minor key
Made him think of fentanyl,
That a cloud had enough time,
That a hill would never say no,
That fall leaves gave up trying,
That his wife would
Give it one more shot.
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Credo

Yesterday he was asked
What he believes in
As if the broken cliffs 
Along the sea
When the fog
Rolls in aren’t enough
Or the children faking fear
Running through a sprinkler.

Trucks and buses
Make wide turns,
Two year olds
Scream in restaurants,
Umbrellas are useless
In a windstorm,
A one-month old
Doesn’t choose
Which nipple is more tender,
The sky takes in any fool’s eyes.

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Du Temps Perdu

He had seen, for the first time,
The top of the small hill
Lush, in its own way,
With yellow and green flowers,
Names escaping him,
Like most memories
He wished would return,
A trip to the laundromat,
A friend’s memorial service,
Familiar as the moon
He thought he remembered
Last Thursday
When he put his laundered socks
Into the top drawer
And glanced out the window,
Or was it emptying the dishwasher
After closing the kitchen window
To catch a quick glimpse
Of the moon’s cradle,
Reminding him of how
Easy it was, once,
To recall anything.

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Home Stretch

He had a choice once
Between two women,
One gnarled in office hours,
Frantic graphs, leather chairs,
Giant-eyed windows opening up
The morning to efficiency
And quarterly reports.

The other, his artist,
Tubes of paint,
Spaghetti dinners,
Spittled arguments about
Too much restraint.
“You never take any risks,”
She told him.

Twenty minutes late
To his urologist, forty years later,
A young woman in her mid-forties,
An amateur art collector,
Today, dressed in black and violet silk,
Tapping keys in front of a computer screen,
“Your PSA looks good,
Prostate’s a bit enlarged,
But no worries on that front…”

The home stretch,
Transparent still to beauty,
But open now
To the body’s failing statistics.

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Things Wished For

He learned as a child
To be silent
On buses and trains,
Or as a passenger
On a long car trip,
In his monk’s space,
Making up events
That never were:
A mother who spoke garlands,
A father who felt grief,
A older brother who had no ambition,
A nun who had bad penmanship,
A host that bled
On his first-communion suit
To let him know
That redemption was real—-
All repackaged in the odor
Of things wished for.
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Post Mortem

After Frank’s death in July,
She had stalked the moon
When it arrived
In its crescent and full phases,
Forgetting even her name
And the overdue electric bill
Still in the mailbox
From two weeks ago
Feeling, in his death,
The moon’s tempered nods
For her to dance naked,
The summer wind breathing gently
On her breasts and wrinkled arms
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Again

A kettle whistling on the stove,
Its voice rushed to the untrained ear
But to this old-habit of a man
A purring of the familiar,
This hissing welcome into the feast
Of the sun’s surprises.
In this hymn of the known
Is to hear your soft feet upon the floor
Your body moving to its own rhythm,
Your head on my aging shoulders,
Your night’s sweet whisper
Melting my desire for any new gifts,
Except this day and an album of you

 

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No Friendlier to the Secret

She was always on time
Even early,
Precision, at 85,
The last measure of character,
Something to gauge
If her son could be trusted
With the gas bill
She would ask
Him to pay
On the due date
At the grocery store
Every month.

Seasons now wearing thin,
The words of others sounding tired,
Promises like a five-minute lap dance.

Even In her prime,
Gestation, her calendar’s battle
Against things to do.

Now, closer to the other side
Of her own mortality,
No friendlier to the secret.

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First Kiss

One night’s overture,
Your first breath’s request
For my surrender, 
I chose to say nothing,
But to move,
As I thought swans do,
Across whatever plain
I remember was there
At the time.

Space, I’ll call it,
Uncluttered by clowns
And city traffic,
Even anger or a friend’s lectures
To finish school.

Your first kiss,
The same one
You gave yesterday
And right now,
If you don’t mind.

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God’s Imaginings

In the arched beams
Of sacramental wood,
God feels
The steady stream of the willing,
Not the rubber-band
Figures, bent, slouched
Along urine-smelling corridors,
Frail doilies
Of their former selves,
Slouched in their dumb memories
Of medicine cabinet,
Doors aching in
Their hesitancy
To speak of cures,
Doubtful anodynes
Against the curse
Of what He
Forgets to heal.

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