# Homework

Bobby sat at the kitchen table
With math book
Pencil and paper (no eraser)
2 times 2 is 4.
3 times 3 is 9.
“Why does it take you two hours
to drive two miles
after you get off work?

4 times 4 is 16.
5 times 5 is 25.
6 times 6
“I don’t care what your sister thinks
and who asked her anyway… you?”

6 times 6 is 36.
7 times 7
“All you do is sit in that damn chair.
LOOK at me when I’m talking!”

Seven
Times 7
Is 49.
Eight
“Don’t yell at me!
And fix something.
This house is falling apart!”

8
times
8 (drop it on the floor)
(pick it up) is
64.
We’ll see who comes crying back home!”

NINE
TIMES
NINE
IS81
AND10TIMES10IS
“I don’t know why I ever married you!”

100.

“Bobby–

Almost.

# Always

I live in a small box
surrounded by the ocean
in its black solitude
where a serpent lives
and slides through the water
like a silver ribbon
riding the breeze
and the serpent will eat me
if I am unwary
so I watch for him always
and speak outloud
to frighten him
so he dives below
where no sound survives
staring through the deep
up at me
and draws closer
as i
pause to catch
my breath.

# Death is Sterile

She was on the bed,
the sheet pulled up to her neck,
jaw slack.
Metal arms rose from
plastic and dialed boxes
connected by tubes.
Harsh fluorescent light
reflecting off white sterile walls.
Rubber gloves,
disposable syringes,
clipboards and stethoscopes
The life monitor is unplugged.
I smell rubber and metal.
Disinfectant stings my nose.
Sterility, and for the first time
Death.
The hard tile beneath my feet,
carefully regulated coldness.
I reach for my mother’s hand,
concentrate on my uncle’s sniffling,
listen to my aunt shuffle her feet,
as the minister prays.

# Divine Conventions

I suppose
nobody ever told you
human minds
compress a deity
Ha!
You can’t define the divine!
I try to be patient,
omniscient,
omnipotent,
omnipresent.
The nerve of them
to liken ME
to a golden cow.

# Note My Indifference

Note my indifference,
how I sigh with boredom,
and my eyes follow
my wandering thoughts
as you prattle on.
Just note my indifference.
as a silly disposable twit?
Does it look like I care?
Do you see my rolling eyes?
Can you hear my bored sigh?
Note my indifference!
and the wind from your mouth
even in the calmest climes.
When will you run out of air?
My eyes have grown bright
with imagined ways of silencing
that great prattle of yours.
My hands twist into claws
at the thought of squeezing
the boring breath from your throat.
You say “right?” and I nod,
gritting my teeth in ire.
I would shove a vacuum hose
I smile at the thought.
I would scream at you,
but I can’t get a word in.
What would you do
if I stuffed pencils up my nose
and crossed my eyes?
Would you just keep talking
and talking and talking?
I wish that just once
you would note my indifference.
What would you do
if I ran away from you
and wouldn’t come within a mile
of the sound of your voice?
Would you just talk louder?
I feel sorry for the folks between.
I walk faster but you follow
If I rubbed your face in glue
I wonder if you would be able
to open your mouth to speak?
I imagine your face full of glue.
I smile and nod at you.
You have no clue whatsoever.
Just note my indifference!
Oh! Oh! Here comes that girl
that sits beside you in calculus.
Hello… I’m fine… did you hear
She’ll tell you, I gotta go.

# A Meeting

The waves lay idle
against the sweltering shore.
The sun bathes the afternoon
in colors of gold and blue.
Little crabs scuttle to and fro
upon piles of golden sand,
uncontent in their wealth.
Clouds march on the horizon.
Dark Lords of the sky look down,
deep laughter and flashing eyes.
The warm sun tumbles into the sea.
The bitter breath of Lady Night
greets electric wrath.
A splitting crack excites the crabs,
the Dark Lords clap their hands.
Neon fingers grasp the Night
and pull her close.
They watch the mad dash below.
The sideways scuttlers seek cover
among the rocks and brine.
The Dark Lords prod Old Man Sea,
and seeing the hunt about to begin
howls a windy battle cry.
He races his white horse chariots
to beat against the dunes.
as light crackles all around
and waves crash and roar.
Hours upon hours flash by
as the crabs huddle together
in the cracks of the humble earth.
As the Sea and the Night,
with the Dark Lords hovering between,
take out their passionate wrath
on the hapless creatures of the day.
Until exhausted, they recede
chuckling at the turmoil they have caused.
And the crabs are allowed to peek out,
and shudder in their shells,
and scurry across the golden sand,
uncontent in their wealth.

# Mourning

I was weaving down a busy sidewalk
glancing back at faces glancing at me
and from somewhere I heard a lonely voice
that asked only two simple questions
which I could not stop to answer:
For whom does the wind in the trees mourn?
And for whom does the sky weep on this sad day?

I shrugged my shoulders and weaved on.
I was already ten minutes late for work
and I had no time for disembodied voices.

I was shouting for my little daughter
who was far too mobile for a toddler
and my son was balanced on my hip.
My body ached and my mind was frazzled
but from nowhere came a faded voice
For whom does the wind in the trees mourn?
And for whom does the sky weep on this sad day?

“Baby, come here.” Was all I could say
and I took my child’s hand in mine.
I couldn’t stop to listen to echoes.

I was thinking hard on a Sunday night
trying to remember calculus from college
to help my girl with her homework
which was due Monday morning.
I heard a tiny, forlorn, abandoned voice
ask me two simple, honest questions
For whom does the wind in the trees mourn?
And for whom does the sky weep on this sad day?

“Find the derivative of the dependent variable.”
Mathematics always gave me a headache
and I had no patience for bodiless voices.

I was finally going to retire in peace,
and today was my last day at work.
My children were coming to the party
and I had to call the Williams’
and ask to borrow their card table.
I barely heard a desperate voice
that asked only two simple questions
that I could not pause to answer:
For whom does the wind in the trees mourn?
And for whom does the sky weep on this sad day?

The guests would be here any minute
and I hadn’t vacuumed the livingroom yet.
Whispered queries weren’t important.

I was looking forward to my kids visiting
during the nursing home Christmas party.
It was always nice hearing news from home
and seeing my grandchildren again.
I heard a sobbing, pleading voice
begging two simple, weary questions
For whom does the wind in the trees mourn?
And for whom does the sky weep on this sad day?

“How about a kiss for grandma?”
My grandchildren were growing so big.
Whispered echoes and voices could wait.

I was standing alone on a barren plain
and no calm words could soothe my fears
and sorrow was the air I breathed
and pain was the over-turned earth.
In the distance I heard a bitter voice
and it laughed out two simple questions
For whom does the wind in the trees mourn?
And for whom does the sky weep on this sad day?

Not for me.
I never heard the sad cry of the world
or the beseeching lament of the earth.
I never bothered to hear the words
that resonated in my soul.
I ignored the helpless seeking hope,
the lonely entreating kindness,
the forlorn begging relief.
How blessed can I be in truth
if the world does not mourn my passing?

# Arrow’s Kiss

In the grove of sparkling light;
in the field of starry night;
stands tall and sure and steady and pure
a lonesome victim,
a lamb at the kill,
to live and die for love’s sweet trill.
Out of a shadow strides the hunter;
sent to bring death,
muddy love’s waters.
So sure of himself, so ready he
to strike down love’s power,
to conquer the need.
He takes aim on the man,
draws back his hand;
the arrow quivers,
the bow is drawn tight,
the song of shy sparrows sounds in the night;
and they stand there as still
as if carved out of stone
while the maiden sleeps sound
in her bed in her home.
Then the hunter releases the arrow he holds;
the last cry of the lover as he is struck down
is a warning to love at the coming of dawn,
to his, in her bed, in her home,
safe and sound.

# Duty

It was, and is, a bright sunny day,
spring is alive and warm.
I walk down a narrow, dusty track,
there’s a duty I must perform.
The birds and the beasts of the field
grow silent as I walk by,
the Robin and Sparrow take to their wings
proclaiming my faith to the sky.
I walk in this silent processional,
eager, yet calm and infused
with the grinding truth of History
upon the stone of the World.
I climb a lonely hill
topped by a ruff of trees,
and as I near the edge of the copse
I drop down to my knees.
There’s one ridge more
to the other side,
it’s long and I cannot see
the valley ahead or the valley before,
the only one here is me.
I prepare myself with calming breaths,
in my hands the earth is warm,
in the distance a lonely trumpet cries
and there builds a thundering roar.
I crawl to the top of the ridge to see
the source of the frantic call,
and as I lay hidden a scene comes to be,
a dismal, horrific brawl.
On the side of the valley,
farthest away from me,
stand ten thousand confident men,
all of them gleaming in silver and steel,
pompous and arrogant then.
They strut and flaunt
inspiring terror and pain.
Their commander laughs across the grass,
armor clanks across the plain.
Below me my eyes are temporally drawn
to a ragged, tired band.
They are less than a thousand
young men and old
their women at their backs.
They seem undaunted, stand so proud,
in moments I see why.
Their leader stands alone in the fore,
his eyes are burning fire.
He speaks with a tone so level and sure,
his love for his people glows,
his passion, infectious, urges them on
armed with sickles and hoes.
“To battle!” he cries, “for Truth and for Right!
Together we’ll conquer, Justice against Might!
Stand by your neighbor, defending his home,
and he’ll defend yours! Now go!”
They surge to the field,
both Farmer and Miller,
defending their prideland, their Home.
Army meets Army,
I hear the steel clash,
the defenders act out their rage in a flash.
The battle goes forward and back like the tide,
my hand, unbidden, strays to my side,
I long to go join them
and fight for a just cause
screaming their anger and pain.
But this rage is not mine,
I am here to be witness
to done deeds of valor and shame.
I am here to birth memories,
honor the song,
and to duty my tensions must strain.
As I watch the men fall
and the field bloom in red,
I council my heroes their courses.
The movements aren’t practiced
yet ever before this spring day
have the motions been acted.
The Raven above and the lone Wolf below
herald the end of the fray.
Their ghostly renditions,
the haunting completion,
echoes a long ago day.
The forest of steel, cut at the knees,
grew never again, and the few?
They triumph, yet lose,
lies under the wildflower rows.
The grasses now rustle,
are green with the dew,
And I watch as they sway,
mimic the fray,
remember the day that has been.
The end.

# Fisher

I am a fisherman without a net,
water slipping through my hands,
carrying my life along with it.
I can grasp at the waves
and pull my hand from the depths,
but when my fingers open
I have nothing in them.
I cannot catch the tumbling waves
and I cannot gather in the seas,
but I can sail astride them
and hope they don’t catch me.