You Told Me Silence

Do not speak unless you can improve on silence.
-Proverb

You told me silence
is confidence, not needing
the proof of noise.

Arrogant, my tongue
stiffened in the foreskin
of my cheek, only occasionally
emerging pink
and proud in posture
and accusation.

Father, I love you —
but you were wrong.

Without warning,
how could I recognize
this conscript of
cowardice?

The Third Time

“God gave Noah the rainbow sign: No more water, the fire next time!”
–Spiritual

All but the water now
threatens to burn.

The air, blanketed with
a screech, turns corrosive;
the land is reduced
from foundation
to dust.

With the coming flutter of
rested and strengthened
wings,
the giddiness of
vandals,
the ecstacy of
anticipated tabula rasa:

this time,
the third time,
is it a phoenix
or falcon
that announces the night?

L’Ennui

“Il r├¬ve d’├ęchafauds en fumerant son houka.”

–Baudelaire

The hangman’s stink is
Damp and heavy.
His splintered feet are rigid:
Dead and buried.

Climb upon his staircase knee.
Hear it creak arthritically.
His spine set straight
So the crowd can see

His smoking mouth now
Feeding at your chest,
As you dangle

Without action,
Without rest.

Pudding Time

“Best moment to attack one in pudding time. A punch in his dinner.”
~Ulysses.

Blistered as a hot tomato,
Angry as a pepper sprout.
A chided child withal, with
His sixties now run out.

Balding from all the promised
Self-abuse inherent in his privileged stead,
He grabbed at all that he could find, And tore some hanks from his first wife’s head.

Gorging on baconburgers and KFC,
Thinking “cleaner” with a dirty mind,
He turned that bleached head from
Lesser things, and offered him to lead the blind.

And all the blind did listen to him,
A blank svengali on a base crusade:
“Transform us from our current body,
And once again, please make us great.”

And now he sits upon his guilty throne,
Golfing while the nation works,
Unless some shall punch him in his dinner,
And save us from his world of jerks.

The Crying Earth

It is as if
today
it happened:

the ancients
piled and split,
already rotting,

twigs of replacement
posing with covering shovels
and believing dignity.

I have no connection to
the crying earth.

Seventy years of fragrant
soil has been
fastened into stone
above it,

so solid,
some no longer
believe who it covers.

Yet, more than pity —
the shards of
belief fractured
by time —

this is memory:

the bruising fruit of
borrowed eyes,

the legacy of
the witness.

(for Primo Levi)

From Four Weeks

Even from four weeks,
you are all contemplation,
a tiny brow heavy
with patience.

Your grandfather sh
your expression often.
Even before his own children
were grown, he would sit,
think of you,
and wait.

Remember Malcolm,
first born
of
first born
of
first born:

circumstances formed things
until he could not wait any
longer, but between
your other stalwart names
your grandfather still sits.

Think of him waiting
and be patient.

(for Malcolm Fraser Abraham)