Bureaucracy

Is not the act of filing paperwork
like a pagan ancestor
sticking his trembling hand into the
stony mouth
of a giant idol and praying
(with sweat-salted lips)
that the rains will come
and the food will be plentiful?
Did not our pagan ancestors quiver,
not knowing whether that
stone-silent mouth
would answer their gestures of faith
with modest blessings
or whether it would remain
cold, quiet,
unstirred by pious pleas?
I stick my hand into the mouth of
bureaucracy
and pray,
wondering if it will
grant my meager prayers
or whether it will
bite off the hand offered
to slake its bottomless throat
as countless others queue behind me…

WB Yeats

Was it a matter much discussed
among those feisty Fates,
a man over which they oft fussed—
that poet who was Yeats?
Symbols all hold sacred power,
or so he oft professed,
from Gyre to Wheel to the Tower,
all icons were thought blessed,
granting to the conjurer’s art
the skill to summon verse
that conveys from a mind and heart
songs for bards to rehearse.
Ireland has had its word-weavers
in days of yore and lore,
but the Fates were true believers
when they emptied their store
into their Fae cauldron to brew
this man of Tarot sight
whose poetry embodied true
the Emerald Isle’s rite.

The Monk

The heron in the cool morning mist
huddles beneath the oak by the lake,
like a monk with head bowed low betwixt
his gray wings while the sleepy woods wake.
He blends with the shadows on the shoals,
as unmoving as dawn’s torpid air,
while sunlight burns on the distant knolls;
the hermit stands like a statue there.
What does he read in that quiet lake
that scholar of mist-spun solitude?
What does he read in the mirrored make
of water while in his pensive mood?
Stoic, soundless, solitary soul,
what is the bounty behind his eyes?
He does not blink as the white mists roll
like tumbling smoke into gilded skies.
Perhaps he sees the leaves of the oak
ablaze with the futile hues of Fall,
painted gently with a master’s stroke:
light on water, water holding all.
Or maybe he sees himself therein,
pondering his beak, his crest, his wing,
like a Buddhist monk mesmerized when
staring at his navel’s spiral ring.
A soothing gray silhouette, he waits,
an anchorite heron by the lake;
silent and still, in between those states
such as when we dream and when we wake.

Perspective

The impact of a small raindrop
on the mirrored face of the lake
makes tiny rings, a silent plop,
with wavelets fleeting in their wake.
Was it similar to the rock
that struck the earth, that asteroid
which the ancient gods watched, their talk
calm as ancient life was destroyed?
Perhaps the great gods did not care
about rings so small in their eyes
that they did not see the lives there
burnt and buried, or dead elsewise.
How will they look on the event
that will destroy the human race?
Will it appear as how it went
when the K-T event took place?
Will we pollute our lands and seas
like yeast feeding on corn and rye,
distilling poison like whiskeys
to succeed so well that we die?
Perhaps the end will come to pass
like faintly flaring warhead fire,
a will o’ the wisp of swamp gas
making of us a firefly pyre.
Whatever end awaits us then,
their eyes will pass over our death
as mine do now—so peaceful, zen,
as billions die between each breath.

Envenomed

Black spiders dwelling in the dark,
weaving webs from their spinnerets—
unheard, unhurried, unseen…hark!
The bedposts are their minarets.
Hourglass upon fat-fed bellies,
crimson warning and silken spools,
their prey melted unto jellies,
kneeling husks becometh all fools.
Creeping midnight venom-vigils,
black prayers and turban-wound prey—
the adhan signal, the sigils
of an ancient faith here to stay.
The imams rub their steepled claws
in devotions to their venom,
hunger and death the only laws
that govern the soul within them.
And their congregation trembles,
the hollowed, hallowed husks bent low
on rugs beneath bedspread symbols—
what dreaded truths the husks must know!

Near-Death Experience

How many people have the sense
to know that all of one’s long life
is a near-death experience—
a stroll on the edge of a knife?
Death walks alongside us, always,
an escort with a cheerless grin;
he may wander, too, but he stays
within arm’s length—closer than kin.
Like your shadow, he lingers by,
unshakably close, day to day:
how fast you run, or far you fly,
means nothing, for he does not stray.
So tip your hat to the Reaper,
for he is a true lifelong friend,
though your wife may be a keeper,
Death stays with you, from start to end.