While you were sleeping

My mother sits beside me,
I warm her hands with mine,
her eyelids close in sleep –
her memory is lost
in better times.

The 1930’s were dark –
but from this darkness came
a deal for the ages.
The farmhouse of her youth
was reached by the REA*.

The mother of my youth,
knows nothing of this
awful year. Her memory
is lost –
in the times I sorely miss.

Money breeds contempt of
all who move and breathe.
And bureaucrats abet,
King Midas’ slack.
The people doomed – cry out:
Give it back! Give it back!

My mother sleeps so soundly,
with a whistle –
barely audible.
I rest my hand upon her head,
and let this sigh
float by.

My paycheck FICA is
misconstrued,
a benefit it now is claimed.
Honest words made evil,
the conman’s constant game.

Oh mother Mary, mother mine
I miss your humor, your wisdom,
I want to weep upon your breast.
This introverted daughter of yours
has learned to rabble rouse.
When King Midas roams the land
there is no time to pause.

There are predators in nature,
they keep the balance,
they eat with need.
But the predator of
office – shop
he has no qualms –
the creep he is.

Oh mother Mary, mother mine,
I want to sleep as you do,
I am weary and despairing,
when the humble and the poor
become humbler, and even crumbs
are denied them, oh,

when all that’s good
seems forsaken
and I sink forever more,
Mother Mary whispers
sweet Anne behold the shore!

Behold the shore my daughter
introverted and rebellious –
I dream her speaking!
I know she’s with me!
Whisper, whisper –
sweet Anne behold the shore!

11-12/2017

* The Rural Electrification Administration was a New Deal agency that brought electricity to rural communities in the 1930s that lacked electricity.

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Mind fog

There is a tickle
brushing cells downstream; gist
of a fickle throat.

Chide me not it is
not vanity; my words,
my words let me hide.

Shady is the song of
mime; silence warbles at
a fate no longer sure.

Songs that need no words,
refuge of inner ear,
not the world of kings.

Must be mighty fine
when sycophants echo
all the lines you speak.

The mark of Cain is
using private sorrow;
all public gain sold.

Wanton one the tears
you cry of blight and gone-
I have sighed your sigh.

Dying not yet dead,
living not yet alive,
refinement subsides.

Alas,

The superficial that I know
rivals Newton’s ghost
while expertise is under siege.

Ski schuss, ski schuss, ski schuss.
And breathe, breathe, breathe.

11/2017

The gentle earth is hidden

The gentle earth is hidden
when neurons run around; the
junco and the goldfinch have
disputed Niger’s perch; no
hunger is abated when
instinct makes a push, and then
the Cheshire smile awaiting
brings paw to claw and so we
watch as dirt meets bone alas,
forever more. The cats who
owned me stayed inside my door;
the neighbor feeds the feral
and on it goes and goes and

friendly dog would romp across
this yard spread wide; any
squirrel who dared to cross his
line would let necrology
rip anew – no soothing can
be expected as legal minds
construe another meaning
to the constitution; oh
yes, we bow and pray, but does
it take a fence to keep the
monsters from entering our
conscience? We battle with no
one so much as resist a
plea from child’s mother – can

no heart be kept from breaking
where narrow river ambles?
How long will the nearsighted
ranger anchor us in plain
sight? The noose reminds Aunt Anne
the old is new again; sad
daughter shot by brother – he
didn’t mean to do this, no,
but nimble rules apply in
this nation of the wild west.
Does ancestry govern how
we behave? Naysayer rates
angst – not one of us is saved,
when dollars outbid Sandy Hook
graves.

11/8-9/2017

A never ebbing sea

He waits upon an empty bench-
the man who does not see.

He calls in toneless syllables-
the man who will not hear.

He shudders at the changing youth-
the man who cannot learn.

He leaves the fair before it begins-
the man who will not try.

What of these men who live yet die?
Shall they have a lamp?

I will be the kindler,
who in the forest fire

Shall draw the igniting breath that spreads
from man to man to man.

Love will grow within their souls,
a fierce and living flame.

I the eternal kindler know love
remains, remains, remains.

old poem

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

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