[i](for Michael Koop)[/i]
Grandma died suddenly and crushed us kids,
Who were unprepared for
The staggering loss
That old people and families manage so well.
The Family stumbled.
Things were said
That echo faintly,
But Family is family,
Which is why
Grandma is a sweet memory,
Not a bitter one.
It seems to me that your Family did it right,
And your tears seem
Much of denouement,
Less of loss.
Family is family, and your loss is
Near to mine.
So I didn’t go.
[i](for John Swenning)[/i]
Enchanted – listening there to subterranean conflicts of love,
Lad and Dad, dark echoes of me and my old man.
That invitation tendered – and declined – would have rendered skill
In me, wisdom of the knotty, passionate weal
Of reciprocal head-butting that embraces love and hate between
Father and son, tethering them like cats on a clothesline, clawing,
Incessantly united, minutely, painfully aware
Of the wefts of each other. No other souls mingle in the play.
Had I hefted that proffered burden, I would now be steeped
In the loving turmoil, been counted wise in that hour when the
Circle dissolved, dispersing discord, leaving only love and despair.
The poetry you sing of your old man dwells within me,
A bittersweet echo of mine, of mine.
So I learn through hollow bulletins that I am forever banned
By time and choice from the mysteries of you and your father.
I am forbidden past the outer rim of your grief.
I don’t know what thing I regret the most.
i gave my brother’s wife an orange
and bound our souls,
hers and mine.
not a whole orange,
less than half –
all she could bear.
loving her so long,
i stood dumb, mute
at her whispered,
“i love you.”
i gave her an orange,
she slept, and
my heart broke.
i gave my
ask that you dream.
Up! Get up, young man, there’s nothing wrong with you
That I can tell. You’ve no call laying sunken still
Three days dead in the evening heat and morning dew,
The jungle creeping in on you to work it’s green-eyed will.
Him I understand, laying slack against the wall,
No head, no legs, no arms, a bloodless shredded sack.
He grappled with a satchel charge, left nothing else at all.
A tattered scrim of dusky skin informs me he is black.
But you, sir, get you up! There’s naught in you infirm
Save a certain languid pallor and a dusty, dreamy stare
Coupled sorely with a stillness that forebodes the end of term
Of your likely twenty-two that should have never ended there.
Sifting through the wreckage, noting dutifully each
Reason each dead man is dead, what each dead man can teach
Us the living, us the frightened. We who here have yet to die
Garner mute and awful testimony, for we must know why.
Threadbare camouflage and boots, accouterments in place,
No scrape nor bruise nor puncture there to certify your fate.
Lily-colored, silken, waxen, beard ungrown upon your face,
Up, sir, up! You are not broken. Bid you hearken and you state
Why you lie there veiled in tears, ringed by comrades welling grief,
Never touching, never touching, but despairing of relief
From the enigmatic answer to that cryptic question, “Why?
“Why is it that you are chosen, and not he, nor she – nor I?”
God’s gift of
we may, if we dare,
sample the adhering ether
outside the scrim
slow as time,
one hand, one hook –
glimpse, a flick –
flash vision – Tantalus