Planet Ahead

April 30: The Last Word

It’s hard to open your mouth

after everything’s been said,

every “hopefully” and “probably.”

It’s hard striking pen to paper

when the quip’s rolled off

another’s quill so elegantly.

Voices and pull-quotes:

the supply exceeds demand,

to put it delicately.

What happens when

you’ve said your piece?

Does meaning follow faithfully?

Intention unmasked willingly?

The last word invites one more;

inquiring minds want an encore.

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April 29: The DMZ

Did I just see

two enemies

meet eyes

and smile?

Hold hands,

and cross those lines,

invited to the other’s side?

Two mere men

walked through a wall

decades-long and -wide,

fortified

with lies and pride.

Millions of ruined lives.

Beyond motive or ploy,

or any cynical killjoy,

it means something.

Man-made constructs

can vanish into thin air

if we’re only willing to go there.

Constructs can be man-destroyed,

hostilities rendered null and void.

April 23: Shoulders

Such a narrow frame

on which to hang

so fraught an existence.

The push and pull that is

a boy’s adolescence.

I am taken aback in silence,

the dark room hiding my melancholy surprise

at the slight slope of his shoulders,

slack under pajamas, under blankets.

Too tired to protest my hovering,

worn enough to invite my mothering.

There was a time,

he’d be embarrassed to hear,

when his head rested willingly

on these shoulders.

April 22: The Clenched Fist

Why?  They couldn’t say.

Except they wanted it that way.

A reserve of nostalgia for

the good old days.

A bittersweet haze

with regret in brief waves.

Something shifted, then slipped

to land them at this place.

Unsure footing,

and room for others in their space.

Theirs is the clenched fist

—holding and harking back —

that mocks the open palm of grace.

April 16: Urim and Thummin

If Urim and Thummin

were good enough for Yahweh

why do I look askance

at chance

rolling a die

tossing a coin or

wishing on a starry sky?

It offends my sense of justice

(as if I could mete out

justice and mercy in balance,

not confuse justice with judgment,

not conflate consequence and punishment).

It flies in the face of intelligence

(then there are pros and cons

muddied in pesky shades of gray,

the id and the super-ego shoving

to get their own way).

Drawing straws seems a cop-out,

an avoidance, an aversion

of negotiation

of supplication

to logic and wisdom.

Yet even The Teacher knew

only threatening the innocent with

the sure divination of a blade

would out the truth.

April 15: The Locker

By a window that let a slim slice of sunshine in,

with a narrow ledge for books or bags.

I remembered the combination,

muscle memory of wrist twisting

this way then that.

A click and a lift,

hinges resisting with a pinch.

Then the shudder and thud

as the metal gives.

It was enough to open it,

to get it on the first try,

in the dream I saw that night.

I emptied the insides;

nothing was fit to keep.

And I stepped aside the door,

leaving it ajar,

a shadow on the floor.

April 9: Up On The Hill (for Nichole)

Up on the hill

where names are carved in stone,

names that we know—

family by blood

and family we chose.

How has it happened

that I come to see you here,

You!

Among this rock garden,

you,

in this lumpy, unloved soil,

under this prickly grass carpet.

It makes for an uncomfortable seat.

But you’d like the sky’s canopy here,

the green, and the quiet.

So I sit and breathe

where you can’t,

and I count heartbeats

in your stead.