Loons

This Michigan migrant
sets up house in
the most remote of
places – no longer
common in
the land of a developer’s
dream.

A pair will stake
their territory,
warding off interlopers
with yodels and tremolos.
The eerie call of nature
is necessary if they are
to ensure enough food
and security for
the young they raise –
usually one,
sometimes two
and of the two,
the fittest might
endure.

The interloper comes again,
each attempt
a swat at
the chick’s ability
to survive.

Go back, I want to say,
let the baby live,
or who will you
mate with in the future?

Alas, Michigan’s loon with
centuries of existence
preceding Europe’s gaze
is at a loss now.
Receding habitat
drafts a wind
of change –
adapt or die,
and how do you
adapt in a minute
when millennia
rules your genes?

If human greed
does the species in,
can we use the excuse
crazy as a loon?

10-2017

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Reflections of the optimist

The optimist in me aspires to
forgetting my doctor’s name,
with the words that I remember
repeat on end and are
the same from Monday through
Saturday, and Sunday
comes and goes with
no difference in my mind.

Year begetting year
each day will be the same
as the day before. Never-ending
repetition will whisper
each word you hear from
my mouth, – the ritual in
repeating, the only constant
I will know.

I look forward to the time
when the muscles in my
thighs fail to hold me up.
When I fall and fall and
fall – nevermore to walk,
a wheelchair becomes my home,
my independence gone – alas
I hope this happens someday.
I want this future
for my final years.

I want all this to happen,
simply put it means
that Enola Gay has vanished
And Fat Man has never been.

I hope I live to see the day
when all these good things
happen to me since
a world without dementia is
a world where all life is spent

10-2017

The poet ponders

I keep looking for the switch
that will turn the dark to light,
a desperate flight of common
sense has left me desolate.
You kneel in silence, and
I will kneel in prayer –
let racism jet off
somewhere else.
Perhaps to a mountain’s cliff,
icy and cold where it will
shiver and fold like
the poker man’s hand.
Or shall we just bury it –
deep in the earth’s floor no
air seeping through.
An angel’s lark shall
not see it off oh but
the boys in blue will
work for us all –
their protection and service,
has always been our due.
Me and you – we
stake our claim in
humanity’s choir,
the rainbow surrounded
by a free at last verse floating
higher and higher.

September 30, 2017

Two children

There was a child
hair of golden sun,
eyes with the crystals
of the deep dark sea,
whose face rose
to all that is new.
This child lived to smile.

There was a child
with skin of glass,
empty of stomach,
swollen of cheek and flesh-
routine marked by want.
This child lived to die.

1980s

Little ditty

The unbridled capitalist sits
upon his horse named Scam,
while millions go without,
Hippocrates be damned.

He stokes his ego
and he sips the air,
the deaths he sows
aren’t his affair.
 
The Black Marias haul
the peons away,
The ship of state rams
into the cay
of liberty.
9/5/2017

Requiem redux

At the steps of Washington
they stood- the people.
I was with them,
nothing but a marionette life
in this sweet land.
 
Instead of a preface
Can you describe this? Yes I can
 
If in the distant future
this aunt still resides in
the mitten
shaped from ice –
if she is still here
and Mitchell asks what was it like?
Can you describe it?
 
Yes, I can, for good or
not – for it makes
no difference
then.
 
The words that spill
from my mouth
are a feeble response.
But they will have to
do.
A humble woman can give
even when her heart is dying.
 
Dedication
Hope keeps singing from afar
 
I shall warble anyways –
a dickcissel beat
of two to open with –
or a flicker’s chortle perhaps
that resonates in
a modern age.
A slow lament or
a laugh, either will do.
The capture of a brown marmoset
stinkbug reminds me
all that is old is new.
 
Prologue
Innocent Russia writhed under bloody boots, under the tires of the Black Marias
 
When I see the Confederate flag
hang at a Michigan door
I wonder what the hell
did old Henry fight for?
Bierkamp that is,
taken prisoner in ‘63
at Gettysburg he served
with the 24th infantry.
Oh, Michigan the men
in talk black hats –
they stood their ground
and chose to lead
this country to moral soundness
which is never found when
freedom is based on pigment.
Every slave must be unbound.
 
I
they lead you away at dawn
 
The wilderness path turns
and widens, first bricks then paved,
making way for the spewing of
lead and carbon.
It was not always so, but then,
I have no memory of that –
the time before Europe
cast its shadow
upon America’s floor.
This girl of Europe
has guilt upon her soul
forevermore.
 
II
husband in the grave, son in prison, say a prayer for me
 
The passenger pigeon was less than a crow
but more than a robin in size.
Nothing I observed of course,
but perhaps my grandmother
in her youth one espied.
This once prevalent migrant
through circumstance or negligence
did not survive.
 
III
no it is not I it is someone else who is suffering
 
Carefree and dancing the Charleston
I let the throbbing exist
in another realm –
other places other times.
If I can pretend it is someone else
I am looking down upon
then sorrow will leave
I try to believe.
 
IV
innocent lives are ending now
 
The dust upon the prairie states
lade the flora bare.
Abandoning the farm, they came
to California. Starvation
has a way of setting
priorities.
 
V
for seventeen months I’ve been crying out
 
The battle is on and who can tell
what seed, which egg survives.
It is not just humans who die,
the wreck of devastation
grenades and bombs release.
The poison sits in water that
ibises drink.
The war that seems so moral
when genocide is launched
creates a massive death
in nature’s well-worn cloth.
 
VI
talking about your lofty cross and about death
 
I replay the memory, replay the past,
Replay, replay, replay at last.
Oh child, oh daughter, oh son of mine,
mother and father and brother remind me
of a time when the soil
did not bleed life,
but fed the plants we ate of.
I miss those days when organic
was everything
and not just a name for what is normal.
 
VII Sentence
and the stone word fell on my still-living breast
 
So DDT and eagles
Are incompatible it seems.
Phragmites and loosestrife
have taken over the streams of
Michigan’s watersheds – the
Great Lakes new extreme
is habitat invaded
by ballast water, weather
and garden plants
sold beyond all sanity
oh please.
 
VIII To death
you will come in any case
 
Polluted waters raise a stench,
While Cuyahoga burns
the water is beset.
Psychosomatic awareness –
dead alewives are wrapped
in the scum of circumstance.
A slippery ghost leads me forward
and I so long to follow him.
But catharsis settles in
as I wearily wade in conformity.
 
IX
now madness half shadows
 
They are all innocent of this –
Kirtland, eagle, even cowbird.
No, they did not drench
the land with toxins,
they did not fell
the wood with an ax.
And each new hybrid
human-made quaff
shall litter their world, alas,
work that is so old
it is almost new.
 
X Crucifixion
a choir of angels sang the praises of that momentous hour
 
And when the soil lives
sans insect pest or nitrogen,
devoid of mantis, beetle, flea,
here lies Juliet
lips red smack
taste of salsa –
go tomato
just a memory.
 
Epilogue 1
Terror darts from under eyelids
 
In this new century
we all can see,
Johnny got his gun
Mary had her lamb.
The lamb did die when
the vines dried upon
the arid land.
Come desert turned
from soil treated like dirt,
or flood the cities with
sea and salt,
all this living is worth.
 
Epilogue 2
Once more the day of remembrance draws near…
And the ships of the Neva sail calmly on
 
New century yes with all
the same old threats –
hurricane or pest,
tornado blows right through
the very image of you.
And more of this is better
oh, the more the better yes.
8-9/2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vision

The house without windows
sits on a hill
surrounded by meadows,
flowers near the door.
It is surrounded in the shade of summer.
Black smog puffs from its nose.
Perspiration is released from its gutters.
This house lives in solitude.
This house has a latch on its door.

Someday the wind will blow the latch off that door –
and I will be invited inside.
I will paint the walls off – white
and tear a hole big enough to look out
at the dawning of time.

1980s

Hero

Look through crack
and you can see her,
a small brown bird-
nothing fancy – with an
insignificant chip
to make herself known.

Or perhaps you will see
the eye of a rail,
hiding in the rushes
or hear the whinny of a sora
in the wetlands,
letting you know
she is there –
but shyly.

She does not have the glamour
of daily bombast –
simply the effervescence of
doing right,
being true,
being there when
there is the only place to be.

And if someday the tread of swords
lies beneath the plowshares
you will know she has been here-
because as surely as the day
follows the night and
the people have dreams on
freedom’s highway,
She – my sister
and your sister too-
she is there she is there!
And we will miss her, yes,
that is true. But-
there she is
in the crack of history.

RIP Heather Heyer
8/14/2017

Water stories : an octet

1.

My grandfather slipped into silence
for several days at a time.
It was a family thing, you see,
my grandmother and her sons accepted
water from a stranger – he meant no harm.
Brother Harry from diphtheria went
to a grave in Wyandotte’s ground.
Willy he never knew nor do I know of
his death other than a headstone
covered in lichen -his name I found,
my search is done.

2.

A twin called Eugene also slipped
these earthly bounds when cholera
reached the town of Allen in 1884.
His brother James survived him only to
be struck down by scarlet fever.
Water from the well was drawn –
Was it murky? Did it leak?
my mother’s uncles moved on
before her father was born.

3.

Sweet Adaline and James called Mortimer,
Viola, Rosaltha. Amanda – these Tyler siblings
did pass away in the fall of 1841.
From Varick, New York the survivors of this fever
fled to southern Michigan.
Did water do it? No one knows
but guesses abound to what led
these children to early graves.
Sister Florence survived to give her granddaughter
her name.

4.

Peter Donnelly and Florence Stitt married
in the rectory of St. Anthony’s Church.
In February of 1918 a quarantine
was declared in Hillsdale.
Scarlet fever or some such disease
roamed the land and
so the church was closed.
Does water come into this story?
Well not as a cause of death.
They had a child named Mary
And thus I came to live.

5.

Lake Huron nearly claimed my mother –
a watery grave she avoided when
a boy of 14 held her to his boat.
He led her towards shore until she could stand –
unlike Patrick Cavan who slipped
into the Detroit River and drowned.
And I wash myself in daylight’s tears
questioning not the passing of stars.
Tears mean life and relief.

6.

The floods of mid-Michigan once
again in my lifetime-
the edge of the Tittabawassee breaks into
the Wildlife Drive, the Tridge, the Farmer’s Market.
Everything closed except to kayaks
and canoes.
1986 recalled and statistically
impossible to happen again before 2086.
This water soaked land
damns our numbers –
the impossible becomes the norm.

7.

And farmland in California
is parched as the drought reigns supreme.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, corn suck
the moisture through their roots,
stems are conduits drawing drops of moisture-
whatever fluid they can find.
Too much, too little, bacteria driven,
she heals she kills,
she heaves us into a quandary
as the glaciers melt and the oceans rise,
saltwater drenches shore after shore.

8.

In my youth grandfather and I
stepped into Lake Huron – my inland sea.
The water that surrounded us
caressed and comforted.
I never questioned this water –
A blanket of quiet cool to the touch,
wide and calm.
This water was like my grandfather –
never silent with me.

 

7/2017

and i sat watching

for a pot of gold
for a ripe tomato
for prince charming
for an end to loneliness
for a place of solitude
but i didn’t see anything
except for a cockroach
except for a broken promise
except for a worn out shoe
except for a paper chain
which is strung around my neck
and i let it hang
the vision of reality
in a lost world
just watching…