This Poem Exists

This poem exists, because
the sea and sunlight mingle.

In the nighttime of life
when men’s vandalism ruins the good
the blood collected by hospitals
spills into streets pocked by bombs.

The song of the thrush is eclipsed
by the glare of decay.
The sound of the moon is a sight
no one living remarks.

This poem exists, because
not all that we call hope is lost.

The hospital blood banks are ugly.
Their smell is of death.
‘Remember the good,’ seers cry.
Did it ever exist

except in the dreams of the besotted
enamoured? They died.

On the edge of the empty, the fullness
goes pale and winks out.
The vandals trap songbirds,
collecting their tongues for the sound.

This poem exists, because
if it does not continue, what then?

RESILIENCE

She leans
Against the wall
Where they stood the children
And shot them for not bowing to
The tzar

She sees
In her mind’s eye
The pregnant women shackled
While senators abase themselves
To tzars

She stands
And dries her tears
And calls those who still hear
To redeem the republic with
Their hands

Descending Blues Man

he was descending through the bottle
forgetting why he no longer could remember
he made some lyrics that he sang off key
and he sang them to all of his early selves

the guitar that he imagined he was playing
hit the chords that early mornings made him weep
and he took that for a sign he was still human
or might of been or probably was that day

that he made the choice or did not, it makes no mind,
when he finally saw the end game
when he finally saw the end game
and realised that he had not been chosen

he’d not been chosen first and he’d not been chosen last
for the whirling pickup game of active life
and he remembered and forgot again he’d been that man
who could have done that choosing and he had failed.

Lost of the Summer Whine

Jackdaw sharing snacks
For the requisite wine I head to the harbour to write.
After watching for a minute the zoo on the sailboats today
I give up on those facts which are not what a reader’d believe
such as the man on a yacht with a bone China plate on his knees
who eats like a dog would if Rover or Lassie had hands,

and the two men in short shorts who are mooring their boat on the quay
while they smile at each other more ardently than most couples do.

Then there are the English, who speak — you can tell: they do not move their mouths —
imparting banalities with a welcome so-long-vowel wait.

There are Germans and Spaniards, and also a jackdaw one knows
and a ponderous Pole who is checking for runs in her hose.

Under her table a terrier, shamed by the way people eat,
pretends it’s asleep by remembering to shiver its legs.

The next-table lady who is biting her syllables sharply
looks down at a text every time that her husband speaks up.
How stern she appears, sitting there as she stares down the menu —
or catalogue, is it? — as if she’s remembering back when
she, attired in woad paint, was a pin-up rum punch for the Normans.

Her husband tries lightening things up: he drinks himself blind,
which is slow heavy business, the bottle-blonde waitress distracted
by the jackdaw who teases my snacks, and by the tan terrier’s trembling
and by a bellicose Spaniard who is telling all tolls are atomic.

‘Did you get that?’ the Pole asks. I realise she’s speaking to me.
I’m at sea now, absorbing Merlot like a fly-about magpie
fined for picking up bits from a windswept white rough-water beach
and for cosseting this summer’s rude stage as a fair-weather friend.

‘If you really looked what would you see?’
my table mate jackdaw enquires of me.
I look at him and we both lose
ourselves in snack-filled intervals.
Small children cycle to and fro.
Gulls imitate a pregnant crow.

At dusk, above a script I cannot read
gulls gyre and shriek, imitating maids
that fuelled Vikings in their dreams
of conquering Saxons, quaffing mead.
I drain the glass, embrace the glow
and tell the jackdaw it’s time we go.

High School Summertime

Dancing slow in the dark at Royal Pines
Quart Budweiser bottles warming in the car
Old cars race the moon down curvy streets
Rock music blaring over floodlit grass

Pretty girls and eager gangly boys
Any music fine if it is loud
Rock around the clock and to the car
People talking like somebody listens

Insects flying up at cooking lights
Play at being grownup without getting old
Cooking something fancy in the mind
Dancing slow at Royal Pines

For sWimbledon Sake

I remember, in what passed that year for summer,
I had been reading books and smoking mind.
Tom Robbins’ Villa Incognito drummer
pla-bongad maidens, paying them in kind
for sake, kindness. I kept getting dumber,
imagining sense and ethics intertwined
although there was no evidence they did.
I dined on farm-fresh salmon, freeze-dried squid.

The Nordic storm inside my living room
fed on the rain lawn-tennis television
emitted. Ice floes threatened to entomb
the paddy-fields, and Jack Frost sneered derision.
A serene Serena braved the baseline flume,
excused a blinded-line-judge bad decision,
and hit a forehand through her blond foe’s pout,
and would have won, but was again rained out.

the year being remembered: Associated Press July 3, 2004
‘WIMBLEDON, England – A day after a pair of enthralling, three-set women’s semi-finals enlivened Wimbledon, unrelenting rain and uneven match-ups conspired to produce a dreary Friday on which neither men’s semi-final was completed.’

The Duck’s Version

Wild ducks compete with children for the shade
in the shallow water underneath this tree.
Tan toddlers pelt their siblings with wet sand.
Few other places the Creator made
compare well with this shallow inland sea
for pretty pleasures. Children understand.

Here they are quiet and happy, and they play
at finding pirate treasure till they swim
into the sunshine. One beached duck eats bread
from a sandwich dropped off earlier today
by a duck-god, he says, daily feeding him.
His story grabs my heart if not my head.