Sunday, February 18, 2018

Shopping Center Gray

You wonder if my recent
photos affix the weather
in grays of absolute gloom.
The shopping center parking lot

draped in a spume of raincloud
looked flat enough to sadden
the brightest childhood Christmas.
I’d gone to Pet Smart to stock

the larder for the cats, but caught
this slump of landscape full-bore
and had to share it with you
to spread and thin out the pain.

But what if instead of gray
snapshot weather those clouds
were bursts of shellfire toppling
the sheaves and reams of culture?

The two worlds wars have faded,
and collective memory fails
to account for school shootings,
police executions, politics

that discolor all discussion
like madmen wielding crayons.
I say madmen to exclude
women like you who render

with exquisite color sense
a world parallel but distant,
one in which I’d like to live
if I could ever afford the rent.

The sky didn’t look at all
like photos of the Great War—
shrapnel and flung dirt sprouting
in organic sprigs of monochrome.  

It looked as sullen as a child,
bored with itself and everything.
I thought that photographing it
would lend an aesthetic dimension;                       

but then I remembered my errand,
and thought of cat food instead
of keeping my good eye focused
on the sorrow and pity of light.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The River in Winter

The river in winter looks a mile wide and an inch deep. No ice on it. Clapboard and battenboard structures lean toward the corrugated silver flux, but none are about to fall in. I’ve crossed this stone-arch bridge many times on foot, slinking from the college to the coffee shop where a famous poet clutched his notebook and passed out with a sigh. Trying to revive him, I inadvertently inhaled his breath and saw huge worms devouring the cosmos. He revived, but I didn’t. And now those worms have strangled my heart so I can’t love the landscapes I used to love.

The river groans over pebbles, sacrificing itself for the sake of gravity. That famous poet has gone back to Pennsylvania where we’re all going to die. I wish I were in Philadelphia in a sleazy bar sipping a pint of decent ale. Maybe the streets there aren’t as slick as in this cubic little college town. Maybe the crimes of the cosmos don’t involve huge greasy worms that sneak through open pores to strangle one’s favorite organs. The cosmos isn’t inside me, but I ‘m digesting it anyway, the worms writhing and my stomach churning the way the river churns over dams and waterfalls before smelting itself in the sea.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Edmund’s Hardware

Outside the hardware store,
the display of stepladders
in red, green, yellow fiberglass,
blue and black plastic trash barrels,

and heavy steel wheelbarrows
absorbs the weather with a smile.
You want the tallest ladder to reach
the daylight moon simmering

in a marbled old-fashioned sky.
You’d hang a Christmas wreath
complete with blood-red ribbon
from a snag of creamy moon-rock

and wrap silver ropes of tinsel
right around the dark side.
I’m more eager to test-drive
the snow shovels leaning against

the rail of the wheelchair ramp.
Not enough snow to challenge
the larger scoops, though. Standing
in the dry cold while traffic

stammers along the highway,
we let the old-fashioned aura
of hardware soften us up
before we enter the store to shop

for a jagged set of drill-bits
and a handsaw cruel as the famous
serpent’s tooth. Ingratitude
doesn’t apply, though. We’re glad

this store thrives with products
so tactile, compact, and utile
that they affirm human aspects
distance like the moon’s denies.