Two Poems

His Prayer
He prayed with his thumbs
crossed,
throat brimming bile,
spittle spraying from snarled lips,
forearms flexing like the forelegs
of a panther in pursuit of prey,
hands straining to the tendons
with an eagle’s grip,
veins pulsating rapidly
with quickened blood;
he prayed with thumbs
crossed,
a vengeful garroter
strangling his exwife
or his chuckle-head coworkers,
his estranged, ungrateful children;
prayed with his
thumbs crossed,
choking the whole world
until only the sound of his
grinding teeth
remained.
He prayed everyday
breathlessly
to a god of death,
his thumbs crossed
around the bulging cords
of his own empurpling neck.

Firm Grasp On The Matter
His painter’s hand had been ruined
by the relentless teeth of age,
crippled in the grinding gears of
arthritis, and so his grasp enfeebled
by a sacrifice to Art and Beauty
yet
he painted such Beauty into the world
with his gratitude for life—
even as his body fell apart around him
he could paint the world with his
gratitude
and none could paint better
than the workaday wonders that he saw
in the passing of routine things
juxtaposed with the inevitable finality
of death’s imminent grip
so close at hand.

Gratitude

Gratitude is not the desert flower
thankful for the sudden shower,
but the thanks given for strength to abide
the thirst of a dry countryside—
to endure the arid eons between
each drop meted, meager and mean,
so the hot hills dissolve around its roots
and blast-burn its shriveled shoots,
shrinking but never dying as it wilts
in its scorched bed, as its head tilts
as in humble prayer, offering thanks
to not know the flush river banks
where a flower is drowned in silt and mud
when showers swell rivers to flood
and die from glut and generosity
and an overbearing pity—
for a flower never drowned in dry lands
except if by well-meaning hands,
and so we learn gratitude from such plants:
it is a thing rooted in circumstance.

After-Affects

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Even now, long after the
car wreck, I open the torn books I
salvaged from the collapsed backseat
and out falls another
shard of glass
to chime dully on the linoleum floor,
such Devil-may-care artifacts
reminding me how
Death
crashed into me from behind,
his approach unseen
like some master-class predator—
the Apex of
apex predators.
Oddly, I am
glad,
grateful,
invigorated that
his collision should still affect me today
with haunted visions of
what horrors could have been
had he not been off his game that day,
because it all reminds me that
any given moment
can be a taken moment
and so life is more vivacious
and more precious
than ever before;
not an unlimited commodity,
but a priceless continuum
I must spend wisely
as I am, in turn, spent.
And so these glass shards are like
exclamation marks
announcing loudly each moment
I am alive, saying
“Remember! You are alive!
You could be otherwise!”
And so, amidst the book shards
and the spinal pain
the world is framed
as it should be:
not with affectation,
but with affection.
Gratitude and
urgency
have become the attendant angels
bookmarking every moment
with sharply fractured glass.