Is the Year the Dead Come Marching
is the year the dead come marching,
Not soldiers, accident
strangers we cluck our tongues about
and then go
back to eating, shopping,
making much of small things; no
it's a parade of people we know;
young, old, our age –
the nerve -
old friends, old loves, the man who did
hair, a new acquaintance full of promise,
a colleague, and a
cousin's husband -
waving flags of their uniqueness in our
leaving images of themselves - kirlian
implanted on our eyelids, their voices
engraved inside our ears. This year,
surprised by too many ghosts,
they deliver packages
with ribbons of memories; confettied
We're not ready for this.
There is unfinished business;
we had yet to find, get well cards
got around to sending, soup
we never brought, words we
we still had time to say, caresses, hugs,
needed thank yous. The dead
celebrate their endings
The band is playing just for them.
the corner without us.
They are at peace. They
their auras behind for us to carry.
street is ours to clean.
It All Dies
creative juices – like the red grapes
in the glass dish
on the top shelf
of the refrigerator, now wrinkled
raisins. No longer fit to be consumed,
yet no one wants
to throw them out,
as though some miracle of resurrection
might still be possible.
Or maybe someone will still come
starved enough to want to eat them.
does this happen – weeks of harvest -
poems and stories
sweet on every vine and bush
then gone one day, a waste
As though words have lost their strength
the passion in the writer's soil
is needed here? Plow through, sow seeds
so poor and
piteous that only weeds would likely flower;
hope anyway for
rain and blooming, or heed the wisdom
of the farmer who knows
when time has come
for land to rest, lie fallow?
oh, to know the difference.
remember it vividly -
how I was taking my nightly bath;
naked and a little chilly in the tub,
not thinking about
or pondering a different problem
knew the Old Masters
understood. Only this time
was the relief of suffering - a jolt
in every cell so great
leaped. It's a wonder
I wasn't electrocuted
found floating face down;
bath oil sliding in
down my lifeless back, just now
could make my life
begin. The usual irony. But
there's also magic in these tales.
The mirror I'd
looked in all those years,
the Mirror, Mirror on the
that kept me snared and found me wanting;
backed a bleak and murky surface
light, was nothing but an object;
mirrors don't really talk,
or have opinions.
Amazing that I never noticed.
it's voice was in my head;
the power was mine to name
not a jealous Queen's who'd kill for my
The Old Masters must have also known
this human position;
momentous can happen
while someone else is eating or opening a
or Icarus has not fallen after all
into the sea.