Marking Hope on October 7, 2017

White paper. Black pen.
Ready? Let’s begin.

A fall day. Is that enough to say?
Do I need to list colors? Not Roy G. Biv
but fiery orange and wild pink
sharing branches of the same tree
even the same leaf,
and that’s the beginning.

Ready for a day of walking, looking
in order to really see and faithfully
deliver the Good News that life goes on
in spite of politics, including politics
falling at our feet each day in newspaper,
on television and now on line––

wars and threats and rumors of war
started by irresponsible men. And
women too, who get on the wagon
that climbs not to any star, but rolls
its way to hell on wheels of stone.
That given, remember the colors

of orange and pink that share
the veined space on the same leaf.

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Long Live the Deer

How long can deer predictably live
in a place where hunting is not allowed?

I scout the periphery of the field
where they appear from time to time

find traces of an old scrape under
a white pine tree––pellets, and grasses

bent by the weight of their big bodies
bedded down for nights under the stars.

Do deer sigh as people do with peace?
Do I anthropomorphize what only wants

appreciation through notice? I want
to relate to their hidden lives and so go

out on the limb of that pine to watch for
their approach through the darkening wood.

It’s Monday, Wash Day at Our House

While clothes are drying on the line
I write a line and then another about
hiding underwear behind the sheets
on the front line. Victorian secrets are
kept in original ways, washed and dried
folded and stored in the linen closet
upstairs. When they’re hung on the line
for all to see, they’re called “dirty laundry,”
and so often, you know, they have to do
with stories of having been done to, so
you understand why the underwear
is masked by clean sheets. It’s Monday.

 

Tribulation

“It will go badly for pregnant and nursing women in those days.” Mark 13: 17

From a nest under the woodpile, a mouse runs out
when I move a stick. There goes another, scurrying
away, this one a mother with terrified eyes
her tiny baby still clinging to one of her teats
looking for all the world like a water-skier
towed behind a very fast boat. Shaken free from
the tarp with its hiding places, mother and baby
disappear into the green sea of summer grass.

The Bookbinder’s Wife

North Country Press in Unity, Maine, will publish my second collection of poems entitled The Bookbinder’s Wife in late fall 2017.

My first collection, The North End, is still available from the publisher, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and can be ordered from any bookstore. Included in the new collection will be new poems from the North End, the neighborhood in Worcester, Mass., where I grew up. Below is one of those poems …

Prescott Street

A post card came today––
a black horse with snow on its muzzle.
In the bottom left corner

Black Ice, Publishers
One Hundred Prescott Street
Worcester, Mass.

I am carried back by the black horse
to a canyon of brick echoing the click
of my child shoes as I walked home

alone from Saturday Mass, when
dread hung from factory windows,
where nobody worked on weekends.

It was a tomb, a gauntlet from Grove
to North. I walked with my heart
in my throat and tried to whistle.

The envelope company’s tractorless
trailers hunched against the brick
buildings, watching me as I walked past

over the tracks where sometimes a train
car stood solemnly waiting for Monday
to couple with one of its kind.

Faster past the electric transformer
fenced in by Danger. High Voltage.
Keep Out. Johnny Tripoldi didn’t

and he was killed. His house was across
from the cemetery with its order and
beauty of grass and stone and avenues

named for trees: elm, spruce maple.
I turned left onto North Street:
Noise, dogs, dirt, kids––home.

A Veteran Comes to Mass: 1953

I hear him before I see him moving
from vestibule to sanctuary railing
at God knows what he shakes his finger.

The priest pauses with his back to us.
Arms uplifted like patient wings, he waits
for this railer

bald like Elisha who called the bears
out of woods to tear the teasing boys

to leave. Might this one too call animal powers
from beyond the doors of the sanctuary to rend
the altar boys and children who stare?

Choir quiet, congregation shifting, the railer
turns his burn-scarred face to us.
Does he wonder where he is? What army

this is that faces him down? As he stumbles
down the middle aisle, still shaking
his finger in admonition

the ushers look at the floor as he walks by.
The priest resumes the Kyrie, and the closing
door clamps off a shaft of light.