Armistice

It is nine a.m. and I am thinking about what they told me:

From the Zeppelins it looks like

 

a tremendous dragon raked his claws across this countryside.

It is the month of November, and I am reflecting:

It is different here,

 

There are those siren songs:

screaming duets told by the artillary shells

and their intended targets

Two hours to go. But:

 

It is different here.

A boquet of every sort of foulness

the tang of the poison gasses

the pools where blood and vomit form the broth of a shit stew:

complimented by the animal naked stupidities:

11/11, eleven o’clock. How clever:

 

How shall I catalogue them all?

There are men far away deaf dumb and blind

There is us here following the orders

There is me here following the orders

They thought long and hard about it, an easy way to remember the time to avoid the confusion.

 

I wait for the whistle and throw on the gas mask

I take my stance and tuck my rifle into that forever bruised space above my hip

I try to kill them before they can kill me.

I trample my dead friends where they form a bridge over the barbed wire

I celebrate the camaraderie of the warrior now.

Then: Armistace.

 

We will pull our bayonets out of our opponents’ guts

but We won’t wipe off the blades on our filthy pants legs

We won’t ignore the chunks of unspeakably-colored flesh that fall by our battered boots

We’ll turn around together

We will walk back to our homes

Broken, all of us broken

the land broken and our hearts broken

But not in vain!

This was, after all

the war

to end all wars.

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Alpha and omega

It is as if he reached down and folded everything that there is

and I sit here, at the wrinkle, at the fold, at the center.

It is all coming and crashing into me here.

I am in a place where all the words

all the words that ever were

must be said at once.

It is all those things, He is all those things, The Alpha and Omega, The A through the Z:

Alabaster

Barren

Creative-Creating

Descriptionless

Effervescent

Fertile

Guargantuan

Infinite

Jesting and Jestful

Kenoisis

Layer after layer endless

Miniscule

Nowhere

Omnipresent

Perfect.

Quixiotic

Random

Self-existent

True

Under development

Virtue

Wisdom

Young

Almost in memorium

This page was almost a blank one except for the title.

I was hoping for a shocking effect,

like a naked man wearing a cap.

The first draft of that sparse title would have implied

all that emptiness

was for our Stanley.

But that’s all wrong.

He deserves a tribute but not that tribute.

How can I offer him a blank page

after he’s filled so many

with home, gardens, love

and the surreal musically wandering through, sometimes,

like an irrational ice cream truck.

SO then I thought that perhaps,

I might offer this mostly blank page instead

to the children of Darfur

or the silenced women of Nicaragua

or the gathered masses in Auschwitz

or the uncles whose blood ran into the Cambodian rice paddies.

At some point that blank page was an offering for us all,

but it quickly died of generality and then decomposed.

it turned first into something for no one and then into nothing for anyone.

“What about the earth, what if this blank page is for the ravaged Earth?”

I asked myself, and I’ll pretend for your sake I asked it out loud in an empty room.

And then I imagined how this empty paper was once a tree.

And wondered how the tree might feel

if the tree could feel

about it’s once-flesh passing through my printer nearly empty

to honor that tree’s loss.

And so my resolution for them all is just this:

I will fill up the papers

I will speak of them

because they can not.

Alchemy

With a twist of my wrist

I will start that water flowing.

The sink is a magical river.

It will splash in my carafe

my eyes aren’t opened yet

but I know the correct volume by feel.

The machine drinks the water all the way up

Gurgle gurgle swallow.

I Cross the kitchen again, it’s extra-long in the early-morning:

Back, before the fridge. The blast of cold from the freezer;

grounds are not where they are supposed to be.

I swear to myself in the dark empty morning.

Before uncovering them behind the broccoli.

Measuring out the scoops is a sacred act.

My silver scoop is a holy object.

I slide the filter inside.

The light behind the switch isn’t dim

in the predawn dusk.

Listen? Did you hear that.

Grumblings, snorts, almost.

A whisky-swoosh sound,

the first drips, down, down, down.

Not water anymore.

Maybe this day will be worth it after all.

The mug is a chalice in my hand?

How it did it even get there?

I pour it out before it is done.

Somebody will complain, later

about the drops that burned on the plate below.

Just a splash of cream,

then the sugar atop:

it is so silent it makes a static sound, penetrating the liquid’s surface tension.

I sip it,

almost too-hot, perfect.

and I am transformed.

Accountabality

On Administering The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Standards to The Behaviorally Disordered Classroom, South High School.

I watch them.

These are my boys

and they are the dregs,

the bottom of the barrel,

those who would sooner be forgotten.

 

Truly, it can be a challenge

to find something redeeming…

To call them rough around the edges

would be to ignore the fact

that they are rough all the way through.

 

If we call them a mite lacking in refinement,

so too, should we call oil bleeding out of the ground and sticking to our shoes.

 

But they are my boys

and I watch them.

Pencils desperately bubbling, erasing, bubbling, erasing, bubbling erasing

until it does not matter

whether they are right or wrong

because the machines will not possibly discriminate

between erasures and markings, by the time they are through.

 

I can see by their wild eyes

how all my instructions

how all their work

is leaking out the deadly-sharp tips

of the yellow number 2 pencils.

 

I look over at the other student in my class.

He is not officially enrolled. And he is invisible.

He was expelled from the MacArthur School for forms of fair of Accountabality.

My secret student is not a gang member, an almost-grown crack baby, or a juvenile deliqnuent.

He is an anthromoprhism, a personification.

His problems are legion.

 

I can only hope that he has a brother, a former classmate, somebody, anybody

will graduate the school he’s been expelled from

And I can only pray

that then this will all make sense.

 

A transfiguration

A transfiguration

She felt the happenings deep inside of her;

Not a change but something deeper.

She felt lighter in a way that no scale would recognize

A sort-of evaporation.

She was turning away from who she was

into only

everyone’s idea of who she was.

If you could only see

the way her eyes would light up with the hope of that completion

You’d feel sad with me.

But atleast we would know.

No one else would know.

They would all still see her feel her touch her taste her

and no one had ever heard her, anyway, so what difference would there be?

She would go on, fulfilling everyone’s expectations

forever.

Perhaps it is a mercy that there’d be nothing left of herself

to know that she should have had so much more.

A taste of Heaven

Not Me at those Harps

Not me:

at those harps

sporting a stylish halo

walking on cotton ball clouds.

Beyond conflict,

Receiving everything I want

even before I ask for it:

Not in my heaven.

I used to only know what it wasn’t.

But the gift

of the last

few weeks

has been a taste of what it will be.

I was nearly wrung dry:

I hope you will permit me to torture that metaphor

and clarify:

the towel

of my soul

was just

barely

damp.

In moments of peace

there was solace

in the fact

that I’d done some good.

But I needed peace

to find that peace,

a thorny dilemna.

And then there was the ocean

not waiting for me

except that it was

waiting for me.

What deep hidden part of me

does the white noise rhythm of the waves

awaken? Why does the salt

carried on the breeze

remind me who I am?

And in the middle

of the rest and the peace

we held a war council

to recover one of our own:

But even this brings a deeper peace

than the surface battles we fight:

I am reminded of who is by my side.

And the capping moment

that next time

A legacy reawakened

through its own force of will?

How could you know

that my own grandmother

stored up her change

for me way back then?

A handful of metal and lint and miscelania…

through the banks alchemy metamorphed…

and then changed again:

Whatever I wanted,

stuff simultaneously

worthless and priceless…

And so my heart tells me it will be like this

In the Great Then:

Rest and battle, trials and the continuance of all the good things…

But there is something more!

I will not play a harp but I will hear it

maybe we will hear it

maybe this is the Great Difference:

Our acts, all of them, will be the

voices, the strings, the harmony.

It turns out there is a truth hiding in that simple-scary vision of Heaven

We will hear it in some new way:

Earthly music will turn out to be only a castrated echo

of this thing our actions themselves will proclaim:

Holy is the Lamb Holy is the Lamb Holy is the Lamb.