Synchitic Epexegeses

Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul Drawn from a Dada Hat

Moved only as one can be moved
through an encounter with the beautiful
and strange –displacement more than restoration–
the soul and the mind, he says, are not
in opposition with one another
but are conjoined: Les peintres, les compositeurs,
les philosophes, les mathématiciens,
nous savions comment marchait l’univers.
Knowing what was known before the more
that has since become known overwhelms.
The mother tongue has been lost,
dust motes and moonbeams
from her head to her toes.
Aya oh deewan’ast?! Knoh cherah chup nishastee?
The touch which does not understand
is the touch that corrupts. Until we can speak
to one another in a mother tongue,
drawn from our common humanity,
peace will never be attained.
We are so afraid of the attacks
we have forgotten our own names
and can’t even understand what we say.
Thirty-three years, long enough for Christ
to have been born and die, and only terror
can save us from ruin, only never-ending war,
save us from terror and never-ending war.
Only children with rifles, carrying stones,
can save us now. The Book says:
Let people fear the day
when they leave small children
behind them unprovided.

In the garden outside, I have planted all my dead.
Nearly every other one you meet here
is missing pieces. No thing may be made or unmade
unless Allah wills it. He fills our hearts with griefs,
to see if we shall be strong.
A garden shows us what may await us in Paradise.
One sharp goad from a terrible grief,
and the soul is waking up.
Cynics will attribute this transformation
to senescence and nostalgia, but
it’s Wisdom’s hand that switches on
the light within. The disenchanted dull detritus
of it has washed up on our culpable shores:
an extension, an adjunct, a prelude,
moving chaotically and each a language,
adding its heft and frequencies to the Universal Drift.
The present is always an awful place to be:
anything, everything can be lost.
Çu vi parolas Esperanto?
Each region has more in common
with its neighbors over the border
than with each other. The developed
and overdeveloped and over-overdeveloped
paved wasted deliquescent post-First World
postmodern city –not really a state at all,
it’s a populated disaster.
Such is the nature of these expansive times,
the thing which is must suffer to be touched.

These are not for you who neither speak,
nor read Esperanto, and who despise poetry.
This century taught the civilized contempt
for those who merely contemplate,
and it’s the lockup and the lethal injection
for those who Do.
Uncertainty kills. As does certainty.
On no official map is there ever a question mark,
and yet, La tera estis tute kovrita per neĝo.
How may we become travelers across
our boundaries, instead of tourists?
All the camels have fallen here and died
of exhaustion, of shock, of the heartache of refugees.
Invariably we seek out not the source
but all that was dropped by the wayside
on the way to the source. But always she is waiting
in the garden, speaking in a tongue
we were born speaking only to forget.
What else is love but recognition?
Love’s nothing to do with happiness.
Power has to do with happiness.
Love only has to do with home.
She wishes you to know she is not dead.

 

4/30/16

Cabin Girl

Just when you start feeling like a shadow,
Ariel dresses your wounds.
Alonso buys you a drink later–
after Miranda drives you to the bar.
(She also refuses to let you walk home.)

Adrian visits while you swab the decks,
pacing like he’s waiting for the first sight of land,
always good for a joke and a word of advice.
Antonio climbs the Most Terrifying Ladder
to sit with you in the crow’s nest;
tells you a piece of his story.

And somehow you don’t even notice–
not til The Tempest’s cleared and you’ve left the isle.
And then you ask yourself
why didn’t I say thank you?

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers:
Hecate cannot tell who’s her friend.

 

2/24/15

My Last Poem to You

It’s been ages since we talked, and yet
my attempt to forget you always fails.
Your memory has me caught in its net.
I think of you when I chew my nails––
you know, I picked up that habit from you.
It’s you I think of when they play that song––
because I know that it made you cry too.
Don’t you agree that it’s been far too long?
I was thinking of you all the long drive,
wondering what the new year would bring on.
And though it was fine, and though I will thrive,
there’s a Great Emptiness now that you’re gone.
How can I believe that you –once my dear friend–
could depart with this awful, wordless end?

 

7/12/16

Wonder Woman Wears Turtlenecks

On Saturdays, Diana puts on shirts
that go way up to her neck, avoids skirts,
neglects to shave her legs, haunts the Bat Cave.
There, she challenges the bold and the brave
to tests of great skill –button mashing wise.
In every game, she flat-out beats the guys,
though speedster Barry will always blame lag.
Well, Wonder Woman doesn’t like to brag:
she just kicks ass once more for good measure.
Heroes must seize such rare days of leisure––
margaritas the best cure for a funk
(plus Clark Kent sings karaoke when drunk).
Sure, Sunday crime-fighting’s rough hung-over,
but justice is served ––and in heels moreover.

 

9/28/15

A Ripple Effect

Water is the Great Connector–
it’s roughly seventy percent
of us, and the Earth’s surface.
The water you drank today
likely sustained a dinosaur
sixty-six million years ago.

Small wonder if our actions
ripple right through it:
the acid we dump into streams
comes back raining on our heads.
Small wonder if my voice
carries clear across the bay.

Waves are easy to overlook
because they start out small:
maybe we’ll be surprised when
the rising tide over-takes us all.

 

10/13/15

Pantoum for an Easter Afternoon

It is the resurrection and the life.
We talk of Jesus in his eggshell tomb,
and I make some snarky comment
about lost pagan holidays.

We talk about Jesus in an eggshell tomb,
pressing Him into the crook of two branches
remembering those lost pagan days
when the candy hunt was holy.

Pressing himself into the crook of two branches,
the Inventor hides the golden egg.
For this candy hunt is holy–
they must scale beanstalks and be giants.

The Inventor hides the golden egg,
and we scatter the rest to the four winds.
We must scale beanstalks and be giants
and think as craftily as our wisest ancestors.

(All the rest we scatter to the four winds)
Strange to be on this side of the game;
to think as craftily as my wisest ancestor;
to suddenly realize I’m in my twenty-first year.

Strange to be on this side of the game,
To witness this twentieth day, the fourth month;
To suddenly realize I’m in my twenty-first year.
When all I wanted was for magic to be real.

To witness this day and this month,
you must trace me back to a time
when all I wanted was for magic to be real;
when rabbits did lay eggs.

You must trace me back to a time
when I set magic aside.
Because rabbits never did lay eggs.
And friends never did keep promises.

When I set magic aside,
I grew down instead of up.
Friends really do keep promises:
saying something inscrutable.

I grow out instead of up.
The Inventor declaims.
Saying something in Russian,
the Healer laughs at us both.

The Inventor declaims,
and I make some snarky comment.
The Healer laughs at us both.
It is the resurrection and the life.

 

4/23/14