Parkland Haibun

Parkland Haibun

What toll, dripping from his fingers? How does he sleep? Which truth
honored? The senator takes millions and offers prayers in lieu of action,
betraying the children, appeasing his benefactor. Seventeen chairs emptied
on this day, alone. He says nothing can be done, that laws are ineffective,
the shooting was “inexplicable.” What do his thoughts weigh? What griefs
will they bear? Can they reverse a bullet’s track or bring laughter back
to a family’s shattered life? Would any god answer this man’s prayers?

even the skunk balks

at Rubio’s empty words

ah, hypocrisy

Empty Cup

Empty Cup

I set down my cup, pour
tea and think this day, too,
may never end.

With what do we quantify love? How does grief measure us? Nine days ago I wrote “My father is dying and I’m sipping a beer.” More words followed, but I did not write them, choosing instead to let them gather where they would – among the darkening fringe at light’s edge, in that space between the shakuhachi’s notes, in the fragrance of spices toasting in the skillet. In unwept tears. Everywhere. Nowhere.

Seven days ago I wrote “My father is dead.” Again, I chose to let the unwritten words gather and linger, allowing them to spread in their own time, attaching themselves to one another, long chains of emptiness dragging through the days.

If experience reflects truth, sorrow’s scroll will unravel slowly for me, and will never stop. I feel it beginning to quiver, but only the tiniest edge emerges. I am nothing, I say. I am voice, I am loss, I am name. I am memory. I am son.

I have fifty-nine years
and no wisdom to show for it.
Never enough. Too much.

Missing Loved Ones

Missing Loved Ones

You marvel that a simple garment retains so much of a person’s
being. I watch the worm swinging on its long thread

from one side of the door’s frame to the other,
wondering how to avoid it should I go out, but a sparrow

solves that problem. In 365 BC, Gan De detected what was likely
Ganymede, but history records no other sightings until Galileo

in January, 1610. Thus an entity with twice the mass of our
moon went missing for 1,900 years, which helps explain

the parameters of oblivion. But nothing equals the heft
and gravitational pull of those we miss – the dead, the gone,

the lost, the never-coming-back – a friend’s laughter
still echoing twenty years later, a lover’s taste and smell

rekindled with each autumn’s first fire, or the dog’s warmth.
Small wonder that we ever exit the house, leaving these

companions behind. I watch the sparrow snatch another
snack, and consider the mechanics of loss. Ubiquitous, but

generated anew. Unique yet common, unfelt and devastating.
Late at night, you say, I draw comfort from cloth, stroke

the once inhabited trousers or the flannel sheets resting
in the drawer. This scarf, her love. That shirt, my heart.

“Missing Loved Ones” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was subsequently published in Eclectica in summer 2017. Many thanks to editor Jen Finstrom for accepting the poem, and to Emily Bailey, good friend of many years and former office mate, for sponsoring the poem and suggesting the title.

Mockingbird

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Mockingbird

Withdrawn, it unfolds
to another
voice, like that

of a child lost in the wind.
Or, lonely, it rises from its place

and sings, only
to return and start again.
The pleasure we accept derives from

the knowledge that we are not alone.
Each morning we walk out and sit
by the stones, hoping to observe some

new patterns in his life. What we
see is an answer. What we hear is no song.

* * *

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“Mockingbird” made its first appearance here in January 2015. It was written
in the 1980s, probably around 1987-1989.

Shadow

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Shadow

walking,
crushing juniper berries
at dusk

the dog shadows me
in his absence

* * *

“Shadow” first appeared here in April, 2015. It could be considered a companion piece to “Mother’s Day,” which is included in the July 2016 edition of The Lake.

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Night

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Night

Which particular wind curls through this dream of mountains
and books left opened? One that flicks pages or shreds
leaves while caressing your cheek? Or another, damp
and limp from envy, barely ruffling the night’s
curtain? In your sleep I am none of these,
relegated instead to unseen tremors or
the chill rasp of sparked surprise, a
tune laid across an unmade bed
in spring, its notes cluttering
the score. Or might I be the
stilled motion, eyes closed
and held taut, creased as
if worn by a pocket’s
rub and frequent
unfolding? This
is your clock.
Continue
the lie.

 

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“Night” last appeared here in October 2016.

Arthritis

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Arthritis

If at night I stray in thought,
dreaming of nimble fingers

and my departed dog’s walk,
will you smile

when I scratch his absent ear
and apologize for the times

I failed him? Even combined,
all the words in these unread books

could never soothe the guilt
of leisure and complacency, nor

match the joy of jumping
for the kicked ball, no matter the

outcome, despite the consequences.

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“Arthritis” is included in Indra’s Net: An International Anthology of Poetry in Aid of The Book Bus, and has appeared on the blog as well.

All profits from this anthology published by Bennison Books will go to The Book Bus, a charity which aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa, Asia and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them.

Available at Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US)