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Collected Poems (2o)

August 24, 2018

from An Ordinary World: Section, “Normalities”

Variation on a Theme

The ghost of my father saunters
through my laughter – no mistaking how his
footprints deepen in my face. He speaks more,
lately, with each fading season, every
challenge, recreation, passing need and
typical event. Or suddenly, when I
would least expect, he speaks to me.

Others hear my new authority,
my age, their certainty
that here sounds one
who, having built the castle of himself,
rides forth each day commander
of a dedicated guard. But I
alone may hear that other
I have found among my entourage:
a king, who tells me I must find
his murderer, who will be mine,
as I am he.

He speaks, that at this very moment,
one who turns a corner of a hall
looks back.
I laugh. They smile,
contented, while I hear the swift
intruder twist the knife.
I nod
that all is well. “Be not alarmed.
The ghost of my father” saunters
through my laughter – no mistaking
how his footsteps echo in my call.

* * * *

Variations on a Theme from the Sanskrit Anthology


kneeling on the bed she hunches
in a tent of swaddling sheet.
“sweet mother of bright births and deaths”
he hears her pray into her pillow
while he dresses


slipping out of bed she shows him
just a glimpse of anxious eyes,
the corners of her mouth pulled down.
but as she passes through the doorway to the bath
some lightness in her step suggests a smile


swinging out of bed she grabs her suit
and from a pocket takes some money
which she tosses on his pillow.
while he dresses he hears humming in the bath

* * *

Waves Coming in Coming in Waves

Gliding my finger along
the lip of this wet shell
I taste the blue that fills
your eyes…that’s what it was
I saw with just the tip
of my tongue, that night
I said I love the echo
of the sea along your thighs.

The Painted Bride Quarterly 1988

* * *

Where Labor Is Cheap Life Is Cheap

these persons dancing on the table
tango lindy waltz or rock n roll

are persons finding themselves again
as they approach each other,
backs straight their bodies proud.

the dancing spins the dancer
out of being like an open hand.
a hand opens and a dancer spins
back to the dance.

so he was wrong for her.
a common mistake. beaten
then, but now she glows

a hand opens and a wheel spins
out of the ground, out of
the wreckage of the auto yard out
of the heap, the pile, the fill,
the excess, discard, dusty
boxes, back shelves, desk drawers
locked, and worn files of the old
technologies, deleted words

after twenty years the war
protester home again. or thirty
and the grunt returns to Nam

the falling barns and central cities
into the hands of the painter.

metal wrought by metal held
in the hand at last, its rusty

roughness smoothed by the thumb.
glass touched again becomes
cool water to the fingertips.

these years of struggle all
were worth it after all. he did
some good. the play

is revived to packed audiences.

in every desire being goes out
of being and comes back

the wall supports
the empty paper

they hold out their hands,
their selves made things again

now paint

The Humpback Barn 2003

[Pages (2n) and (2p). Page CP (1).]

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