Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Swedish Blues

My sister, Jaci, and Marguerite in 1988. 
Her Swedish blue eyes, never wan
As she sits, concave in her chair
Kyphosis has claimed
Her regale deportment
Has left her gasping for air

She pants a warm invitation
“Pray, sit, the seat is not taken.”
I perch on her couch
And gaze in her eyes
Her beauty not yet forsaken

The air hangs vacant of words
Her thoughts have scurried away
I wonder aloud
Is there anything, Mum
Say the word and I will obey

She smiles again between breaths
You have five children, she asks
I nod in agreement
What else can I do
Then adjust her oxygen mask

My tongue in my mouth is like lead
Her final example: ascesis
Pills at her disposal
A handful could end
Her grasp on life releases

But the easy way, she will not take
As days turn to nights without end
She patiently waits
For her turn in line
When Jesus will bid her ascend

--for Marguerite 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Global Changes

“Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarreled with him?”  --Blaise Pascal

The sun might burn a little hotter, toast the moon to crème brûlée. The ocean tides roil wider, coaxing the insistent surf. Children play in pursuit of enemies and baddies. But too soon, they graduate to coursing-games without protection of the scabbard tip. Wing tip, felt tip, tip-toe, tip.

Suddenly cartography becomes a stylish profession. Whoever draws lines wields power like a bulldozer. Lines in the sand. Lines on their faces. Battle line, toe-the-line, bloodline, soup line, bottom line. 

The moneyed sets acquire mercenary education. Too busy with League-of-Legends and Inter-Stellar-War games, their lackeys nothing more than a repository for sound-bites. Trilobite, snakebite, overbite, Jacobite. 

So what’s left beyond climate—it’ll be volatile; politics—sub rosa; and power? Yes, the humble-god-of-love, which flows around the obstacles and firms up to make a pudding. Who doesn’t love pudding? 

Make mine tart.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Why I Am Sending My Dad a Father's Day Card in November

I still have the card in my desk drawer, lower left.  I look at it very rarely at this point. It reads: "Happy Mother's Day to my sister who showed me how to be a great mom..."
followed my sister
choir, college, marriage, child
cheerleader in each
I found the card at a rummage sale; I accumulate cards like an old lady sprouts chin hairs. Rifling through a stack of greeting cards filed in an old cardboard box in July, 2002, I pulled out one that stated my thoughts exactly, intending to send it the following May. I never dreamed I'd instead bury my sister the day before Mother’s day, 2003.
a seed catalogue in winter
but spring never comes
So the card sits in the bottom of my desk drawer, lower left. I cannot throw it out. I cannot mail it. Why did I wait, I wonder. Why did I wait?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

When a Child is a Poker Chip

Holding out his hand, palm-side up,
he grinned wide. So I asked, “Wassup?”
“Gimme a buck, could you?”

A dollar in this beggar’s cup?
He stood expectant with his pup.
Would he buy grub to chew?

He looked skeletal, this close-up
“Come on, we’ll go someplace to sup.”
With a frown, back he drew.

Mister, see this measuring cup?
Boss man demands to fill ‘er up.
If I don’t—black-n-blue.

Kid needed food, not a wallop
This trafficked child was enveloped
His world: a cut-throat view

Panhandled more like a stick-up
He a pawn, me like a bishop
In the end, we’re both screwed

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Balmy and pleasant, first Monday in May,  passions burn like fire
Chickadee chirps at the crack of an egg, abundant life abounds
But on that day, it could also be heard, pistol shots fifteen minutes prior

One hundred yards away, guardsmen fired sixty-seven rounds
Twenty-nine edgy men squeezed the trigger on their rifle
Under a cloudless sky, four students fell on University grounds

Since that day, the fourth of May, many have tried to stifle
But secrecy reeks when justice uproots, it’s best to be transparent
Back in 1970, despite 'Nam, war was losing its disciples

We lay to rest the hottest fears, those moods that stir up the aberrant
Toss flowers on graves and cross ourselves; pretend it’s not that dire
 But the nature of war, of the human heart, knows conquest is inherent 

Kent State was a bed of unrest, flames reaching ever higher
Sandra and Bill were just two kids, to protest, they didn't aspire