Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sweeping Away the Spiders

At the waterfall, raw ledge
grimaces with pain. Ferns thrive
in the huge geologic wound.

The rock shadow can’t darken
the exuberance of the foam,
but it deepens by dimming the pool.

From the footbridge, we admire
the clash of plane and perspective,
the falls angling past the rock-face,

the stream flowing off somewhere
in a huff of nodding hemlock.
You admire even more the spiders

webbing the lattice of truss
supporting the bridge. Spiders
with their octet of limbs busy

mapping the world to their needs.
Spiders charting the atmosphere
to ensnare the tiny innocents

they drain of fluids and discard.
You see the webs as rococo
d├ęcor imposed on vacancy,

while I read them as evil texts
that apply as cruelly as scripture.
Here comes a youngster with broom

to brush the webs away. You’re shocked
that a summer job could involve
wiping the natural slate clean.

Who has ordered this boy to wield
his broom so people like me
don’t feel threatened by spiders

dividing the world among themselves?
You can’t watch the carnage so
we head for the car, leaving

the waterfall pulsing, the ferns
waving, and the spiders crying
as their fey architecture fails.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Trump Spring

Peepers rant in marbled dusk.
I step outside to taste the rain.
Husky yellow overtones
with a hint of toxic metals.

No more Sunday Times flopped
on the kitchen table. No more
TV news brimming with crisis.
The rain pools by the garage.

I should set up a pump to drain
the swamp, flush it to the culvert
where slime creatures lurk and plot.
But first a glass of red wine

to numb me speechless enough
to face the world we’ve created
from matter as primal as sludge
at the bottom of a septic tank.

What of the wars bristling here
and there, barbed and vulgar
and dedicated to the murder
of small and harmless civilians?

What about the unemployed men
smoldering in a hundred nations,
including my own? Living day
to day on a pension shrinks me

to fit the silence that would apply
if the peepers hushed a moment.
The men in charge, expressions plush
with fat, peer over their shoulders

as money flutters on flimsy wings,
looking for a place to alight.
It won’t roost in my windy pines
or on the eaves of my bungalow.                                         

The men in charge allow women
to approach but not to touch.
Like the peepers they’re obsessed,
and like the peepers they dwell

so deeply in the marshland
I’ll never meet them face to face
to see their long rubber tongues
snap the dollars from the sky.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pumping Station, Fresh Pond

Behind glass, the tall blue pumps
that manhandle city water
look placid as the Buddhas
in the museum’s Temple Room.

I press my face to the window
as if pining to worship objects
far more useful than I am.
The building’s smug with silence.

The stages of preparation—
intake, filtering, ozone
discharge, sediment removal,
pumping to the hilltop reservoir

in Belmont a mile to the west—
occur in confidence like
espionage or adultery,
leaving only the subtlest clues.

I want to ride the water
from here to there and back again,
surfing through the massive pipes
with high-voltage tingling.

But in the sediment pool the scum
of organic waste conceals
water so thickly aerated
it can’t float the human body,

so anyone falling in would sink
instantly as if falling through air.
The orange life preservers
hooked to the railing are useless.

The plate glass clouds with my breath.
I wish I could at least hear
the hum of the pumps, but maybe
like the singing of the sirens                                                

it would foster that restless passion
that settles on any available
object and roosts there, crowing
over self-effaced success.