A Christian Scientist Funeral

“There is no mourning, death, or strife?”
You fools who deny death, deny life.

Well did Jesus prophesy when he said,
“leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

You are just shadows in a shadowy place.
And your funerals are a goddam disgrace.

A Reporter on NPR

A reporter on NPR reported this morning:
“The moon hangs fat and milky over…”
somewhere in India.

She kept going on about tigers and tourists
I can’t remember the story
But it made me want the moon.

The Inefficient Sandpiper and the Very Stupid Man

A sandpiper snaps
into a turn
and sprints
around the beach
directionless.
Mad to find some morsel
underneath the sand.

She pushes down
her beak,

nothing,

angles off
in some direction,
stops,

And pokes
the beach again.

Ah, but now—
a bit of flesh.
A chemical spike of violence
keeps her there
a millisecond longer
to grip the meat
and eat

Then it’s back
to simple madness.

Mapping out the beach’s
colonies of unseen
sandy creatures
beak-sized chunk by
beak-sized chunk.

A man is walking by observing how
a little bird so inefficiently
explores this world.

How it could never know the way a human knows
the morning light through heavy clouds,
the beating ocean, close and menacing.

How the universe to it
is sex, and food, and danger.

But then,
blind to human rumination,
the tiny bird
snaps herself again
into a sprint
toward the waves,
she plunges
deep enough, it seems,
to be sucked out to sea.

But, instead, she saunters
back to shore
with blank, inhuman joy.

Growing Up

A little boy, on learning from adults
about opposable thumbs

Asks the oak tree what it’s like
to live without them.

The oak tree, being wise,
gives no answer.

The little boy, a fool,
doesn’t ask again.

Maxforce FC Ant Bait Station

I love them with a stillness like regret.
And when they enter me I gather to
meet them inside where orphean minuets
loll in the dark. I’m passive as they chew
the part of me I sense I was created
for. I can feel their quivering antennae
discover me before they bite a quid
of what I think is rightly theirs. For I

am just a lifeless tool to please
and give a tiny respite in the droll – no –
the work from which the ants must find release.
Poor darlings, life must take a violent toll.
So like a lover lying on the bed
I open slowly; gently nod my head.

Genesis 15: A Meditation

It was the rite of ancient conquered kings
to walk between two halves of severed cow,
and swear to peace or face a beastly cleaving.

And now when flesh has won its coup
and great and dreadful darkness falls
I brace my halves that must by law undo.

But then before I’m razed to earth and scorch
a greater king commands a greater peace
with smoking fire pot and flaming torch.

Bichon Frise

Consider the trash can, bichon frise,
you piss upon outside
Starbucks.

There is no one to comfort him
No shelter from the elements (including yours)
No simple pleasure to relieve his toil.

Still, he sits in spite of this
defiant.
Quietly laboring in his terrible office
taking in the waste of this world.
Keeping coffee cups from purgatory
once their fresh brewed glory is spent.
They come to him seeking an end.
And he delivers.

He is free in this. His fate is set.
Your insult is nothing.

What is your purpose bichon frise?

The Old Man: On Women

When I was your age,
Love Bugs would get so damn thick…
Anyway I hated em. So I’d
Catch me a real juicy pair
And I’d smush the big one just like that!

Ha Ha, and then I’d
Laugh and laugh…the poor little
Bastard’d try to pull himself outta
That old squished woman-bug,
Probbly pulled somethin’ else tryin’. Ha!

Skittles

Dear God, I know it’s much to ask of you
but please, please make this great big bag of skittles
have lots more reds than any other color.
In fact, I’ll boldly pray in faith that you
will make them all the red kind. Be it so!
But if you don’t and choose instead in all
your mighty sovereignty to cut in me
long suffering and test my faith and make
me steadfast, please, at least give me the norm
in reds and not, to prove a point, much less.

Sea Dog

In the splintering rain
the old sheepdog sat on the dock
with hair like seaweed
waiting.
He did not note
the wood as it whimpered and rose
into snarls at every wave, 
the few boats rubbing the dock
struggling to dry.
If the storm had let him see those two tumbling
blues trysting on the horizon, his innards
would not have clenched a bit.
Though he smelled a thousand times:
the rain like iron pots, the salt,
the seven generations of rotting whale
the rain could not shake out,
he did not care except perhaps a little
for the whale for he was hungry
and the hand he did not bite
had left to see
what some dumb beast could not.

Apple Core

Ah! nom de Dieu! qu’ont donc crié ces entrecôtes

-Guillaume Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire, an apple core
am I. Tell me, is this thing you have done,
your plucking of my tree away from me,
your violent “mastications,” as you call
them, is this thing so good that you could whistle
through my pulp stuck in your terrible teeth?
that you could smile, dripping juice, as youthful
bodies, riper apples than I, flit past?
Who, my friend, who could have suggested this?
Oh Holy Christ! My tree! My tree! My God!
To think she made me warm! To think! My God!
To think. That sunlight was and is no more
my food. That now, away from her, it dries
me out, prolongs the decomposing of
this core I have become. What bitter love
we had together. Oh what bitter love
we had…perhaps if I had given more…
But no. Christ nailed! The fault is yours Guillaume.
‘Twas you who ripped her branch away from me
You were the one who carved me into what
I am today and flung me in this field
Where now I have no purpose but to rot.

The Old Bitch Gets Out Of Bed In Three Parts

For Callie

I.

She sleeps naked every night
under just a quilt she fashioned from
her husband’s flannel shirts.
Retreating from a dream of marriage
stealing only smells away,
she warms.
Her body creaks and coaxes her awake.
She senses from underneath her quilt
that night has honed itself
and burgeoned into morning.
It’s then she feels the wrenching love
that sorrow and diffused regret have given her.
She lets herself be taken by it,
heaves the quilt away from her
and lies exposed beneath
the curling of the dust

II.

Opening her eyes,
She watches, with devotion and a touch
of envy
her bedroom windows
fling themselves into the morning—
brazen, youthful, foolish—
as sunlight, huge and gracious,
quickly waters where they meet
and fights to keep from bursting them.
When certain of their safety,
                                   then,
it lunges in and crackles through the room.

III.

She pulls the weeds
from her tomato garden
which she planted where he died.
“Something in the red,”
she used to tell the inquiries.
Now she doesn’t know.
The flowers in the creases
of her apron bloom as she unbends
and then surveys with earthy hand
the property with bitter love.

She thinks in large, inchoate thoughts
that shoot out words
inside of her like:
“swollenness” and “light”
and sees before she stoops again
a flash of evening sun in bending grass.

Fall of the Rock of Ages

I didn’t think too much about the sign
at first. After all, I don’t have the Faith
like a child. Mama said I don’t have faith
enough to trust in gravity. She’s wrong
I think. She didn’t know I just need proof
sometimes. That’s why I didn’t think too hard
about it when that book fell over on
its own while I was sittin’ on the couch
just looking out the window at the yard.
Just fell right over on its own right there
just sittin’ on the book-shelf. On its own,
I thought, without the child faith of course.
Before that, I was thinking pretty hard
about Martha, my wife, or Mama when
I thought, “oh man…oh man!” I thought. That book’s
been standing up since I don’t know when. “Boy!”
I said. I thought it might be ghosts at first
just like any would, I guess, but then
I knew it couldn’t be. No such a thing.
“Jesus is here.” I thought. And then I saw
the title of the book was Rock of Ages.
Now why would Jesus do a thing like that?
Books don’t just fall ‘less Jesus pushes ‘em.
But Rock of Ages? Jesus is the Rock
of Ages. Something’s wrong in that. A house
divided ‘gainst itself can’t stand. “Can’t stand…”
I thought. “Can’t stand, can’t stand, can’t stand,” I thought.
And then I saw my Martha standin’ in
the yard in just a sun dress with her back
to me. Just standin’ looking at the old
oak tree with all those tiny summer bugs
jumpin’ around her knees like they were curious
what was under that dress. I called to her.
Was then I heard the gun I bought for her
go off and Martha fell just like the book.
I never knew so many birds could live
in just one tree.