Ignitio

The poet said the world would end again in ice,
But I believe its destiny will be the fire.
When all the stars go singly to their dark defeat,
And nebulae, undone by entropy’s deceit,
No more to light’s creation can aspire,
And last among the heaven’s arched and soaring heights
Fair Sol, that bloodied giant, falls upon our sphere,
We’ll recall among ourselves the wrathful Flood
Ancient counterpart, deep quenching of our sins.
The world once burned with scorching guilt, but now begins
The final forging, metal bought with Lordly blood;
The fire summons all to judgement and to fear.

Abortion

The decision was made quite simply,
In a simple waiting room,
The obligatory magazines lounging on the table,
And floral patterns melting into the light blue wallpaper.
The operation was neat and tidy:
(Carefully supervised of course by gentle nurses,
Following rules the beaurocrats kindly assented to.)
And the only black in the room
Was the quiet that filled her belly,
And even then the white penetrated there
To absolve her of inconvenient conception.
The vacuum was plied with expert hands,
And a guilt-bladed knife worked things of horror.
The remains of a torn life were quietly taken away to market,
While sorrow struggled to enter, kept at bay
By the lying calm on the face of the eyeless nurses.
The book I wanted to read is locked,
No infant cry to sever those bonds and tell me the story
Of following life.
Only a single, questing, bloody hand reaching, seeking
Out of the smothering white plastic bag.

Remember

When Roland fought his victory
On the field of Roncevaux,
And Don John of Austria
Achieved his mighty blow,
And Martel’s iron hammer
Smote the Paynim horde,
The vanguards of a Christian Church,
They knew for what they warred.

But though the land and sea they swept
With chivalry’s dying breaths
The sky unblemished yet remained:
The air had not seen death.
But in Our Lord’s remembrance,
A thousand years had fled
Before the Paynim hosts would strike,
A second dragon’s head.

No knights, no Christendom saw they,
Only the West, corrupt.
They swore a bloody vow and bond
To meet where Mahound supped.
And in the sky at last they seized
The swords they lusted for,
To wield against the West’s strong towers;
The Paynims flew to war.

Strange thing! That in their flight,
Three of four would strike,
Flying but not fleeing,
Victory and death alike.
Three modern churches soared in flame:
Our country’s five-side shield,
Two monuments to commerce fell,
And then the fourth: a field.

For Roland’s spirit rose again
And held the common heart,
Again Don John of Austria
Would fight his valiant part.
For common men, uncommon souls
Their heritage reborn
Unarmed, unyielding, undismayed
They answered Roland’s horn.

And they the martyrs, for they took
That sword in their own breast.
They fought and died for others lives,
And joined in Roland’s geste.
The wailing of a stricken siren sounds
Flight 93 is mourned.
And yet we pause, in silent praise,
On this September morn.

Rest

A friend of mine who was a very gifted singer and musician passed away quite suddenly a day ago in a motorcycle accident. This poem is for him.

Though the melody stops suddenly,
Brought a grief to me,
The only way to rejoin the song
Is to count the measures of rest.
Against God, who will protest?
The Singer of all right will not sing wrong.
Those who would find harmony
Must bow their knee;
No suspension remains unresolved.
Although our own resolve might fail
Our voices weak, and bruised reeds be frail,
A tear is not a sin, and grief’s absolved.

Bowl

All I have is this day
And no bowl to put it in.
Not even a camera or
Pencil.
And I am definitely not good enough
At origami. Not even close.
Sculpting is out too.
The earth has just the right amount
Of dirt,
But only because the thing
I want to sculpt is the world
Today,
And I’m fairly certain sculpting everything the way it already is
Is redundant.
Face paint would help,
Though.
No way
You could ever interpret my dance
As I go hopscotching down the sidewalk
Like someone with nothing to lose. But
For now
This tablespoon
Will have to do.

Turtle Thief

The turtle in this science lab
Clunks uselessly in his plastic
Cooler, prison.
Sometimes I am that turtle
Gawping uselessly at those
Impermeable walls.
Legs are hopeless here,
But the turtle is not.
I wish him luck, because
Sometimes things happen.
Sometimes students re-pond
Furtively stolen turtles.
Sometimes grace falls on your stubby head
And beaked face and your stupid, stubborn shell.
I’m just saying,
There’s nothing impossible
About that.

Be free. Eat many fish. Flummox many predators.

Pardon Me

There were no signs inviting me to Paradise Creek.
Maybe that was my problem.
It was true that the cold smoothness of the stream,
And the secret stillness of the shade under the sunstirred trees,
Were pretty exclusive,
Not even the man-made concrete trail
Five feet away
Could boast the same refinement
As the shag-carpet weed of the creek-stones.
The cattail brown-paper mat
Whispered under the retreat of a garter snake,
A stream of scaled fugitive silence.
The frogs submarined in embarrasment.
Even the leeches politely backed away, yellow
And quietly insisting on their mudbound privacy.
Furtive is the best word: as if I did not belong there,
As if this very experience was a theft.
Imagine a burglar in a museum wondering where everyone’s at,
That’s how I felt.
Or maybe I was just a visitor in a room some curator forgot to lock.
Either way, I expected to
Be kicked out
Soon, but scenelessly.
Maybe I’m the oblivious celebrity
Trying to hug the Queen of England.
“What a nice lady,”
I tell myself,
While the Queen continues to smile patiently
From behind my enthusiastic,
Unwelcome arms.