Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Would Jesus Say?

Power tools crouch in the cold,
radial and table saws alert
in muck of sawdust. Fringed

with yesterday’s snow, the scene
features two green unfolded
A-shaped Fiberglas stepladders.

Atop one, the carpenter,
laden with tools, examines
the slot where the next board goes.

Replacing this rot-damaged
oriel window’s not easy.
I wish I had the skill and drive

to correct whole worlds of decay,
rasping and crosscutting lumber
the mills have badly undersized.

Two-by-fours are an inch and a half
by three. Six-inch trim is five
and a quarter. What would Jesus,

an honest carpenter, say about
such crass and cheap imprecision?
This fellow in maroon hoodie

works without complaint, ripping
boards to exact measure, scrapping
a lot of scrap. I’d like to rummage

through that barrel of wood-waste
and take home something to use.
He probably wouldn’t object,

but I’m too shy to ask. Edged
with tough black paint, new glass
looks crisp as ice on the lake.                                                      

Behind slabs of particle board
the restaurant hums as usual—
old gossip, fake news, politics

chatty as migrating birds.
I could treat myself to coffee,
but I’d rather watch this work:

the new framing emphatic enough
to affix a single perspective
that could force us all to agree.

Monday, October 3, 2016

So’s Your Mother

Jacked up on cribbing, a house
on the lake looks so vulnerable
I’d like to topple it splashing
roof-down into the water.
What does the Indian name

of this grave lake mean? A friend
translates it, “So’s Your Mother,”
so maybe So’s Your Mother
undermined this structure and forced
the owners to rebuild it

with a poured concrete foundation.
What if we squatted up there
a couple of stories above
the workday autumn fleecing
ordinary people with taxes

and insurance and huge bills
for pumping out their septic tanks?
What if workers back on the job
found the house inhabited
by people who otherwise never

could afford to live by a lake?
Sunday’s a good day to squat.
Christian benevolence overflows,
so trespassers rarely get shot.
The mud-bottom smell comforts

with sighs and bubbles of gas
from leaf decay brown as the shoes
I wore to our wedding. Tonight,
while rain occlude the moonlight
and sizzles in the bluestone pit

where the new foundation will go,
we could listen in stilted dark,
perched like two pagan deities
far enough above the loneliness
to seduce it without thinking.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Quartet in C

The Apple Hill Chamber quartet played Hayden's Quartet in C today, September 30, 2016, at the Harrisville (New Hampshire) General Store. A pleasantly informal venue for one of America's finest string quartets.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Woman with Wings

A woman confronts a photo
of another woman with wings.
The winged woman poses before
a tower crane that poses in turn
before a distant cityscape.
Although the burnished tangerine
gown that drapes her geometry
features elegant corrugations
that would surely trip her in flight,
her wings look too feathery
to brace all that fashion aloft.
The woman observing may think
these doubtful appendages fail
to justify so much wall space
in this worldly, pricey museum.
Without creeping closer and spoiling
the tableau, I can’t determine
if those wings have grown fresh
from the subject’s sexual ethos
or whether from early childhood
she enjoyed deep alar passions
that have fruited in this display.
Maybe she hasn’t actually flown
on those flimsy accessories
but will launch herself as soon
as the photographer has finished.
Maybe the woman onlooker
would like to have wings of her own
and will go home determined
to grow them despite the fear
this ambition stirs in her partner
and friends. I want to tell her
to go ahead and will her wings
to sprout from her naked back,
maybe after a strenuous bout
of routine lovemaking. Maybe,
though, she just wants to drape
herself in tangerine and pose
before a distant smiling city
where tower cranes peck at
the landscape like blue herons
pecking meat from minor species.