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THINKING OF SUICIDE WHEN THE HEAD- LINES SHOULD BE ENOUGH

2 NYT headline

Send Kevorkian away

His services unnecessary

For the slow death

That comes from the congenital

Uncontrollable urge

To read the daily newspaper

(And not the easy living sections either)

Always, like magnets,

Injustice draws the eye

The travesty of the slaughtered

Lions,

Ideas,

Ideals,

The travesty of the disenfranchised

And the people who struggle

For some semblance of happiness

In pictures of mothers and fathers

Running ragged

Across borders children in arms

Tripped up by reporters’ cameras and legs

That horrible hubris at center stage

Every day

Clothed in the 1st world democracy

Of law & order

Laws written by beneficiaries of

The order

Meted out by chanting trolls

Ignorant of humanity

I’m sure I will die a death

By thousands of strokes

Of a newsroom keyboard

A slow death

Swaddled in helplessness

My own keys taking

Weakly vicious strikes

At an enemy

I refuse to acknowledge

As I brush my teeth

In clean 1st world water

Eyes downcast

I turn out the light

Leaving the room

Before the enemy arrives

In my own reflection

A Country For No Child

Gwen's World

Jaime Kalenga, whose mother died in labor, suffers from malnutrition and tuberculosis. Credit Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times Jaime Kalenga, whose mother died in labor, suffers from malnutrition and tuberculosis. Credit Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times

There is a country rich in diamonds,

Oil and foreign sports cars

I know this – having read it in

The Times

This is a country in which one child

In six will die before the age of five

Says The Times’ Kristof

But I live in a country that cares

About children – Some of us

Care so much we call authorities

On parents whose children walk

Home from the park – alone

Keeping our children absurdly safe

Ignoring the Angolan mother holding

The “twig limbs,” swollen belly, wizened face

Of the near carcass that is her child

She’s waiting for care from the few who do

Those people who come from far off places to nurse and

Heal everyone’s children

Those people who know that diamonds

Are friend to no…

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THE 5th OF JULY

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The “why?” that cannot be identified,

Defined beyond its face

A hazardous life with Newton’s law

Setting the young in motion

Long columns of face-blind,

Ghost-eyed pawns to war

For liberty and commerce.

And we celebrate – loudly

The necessary battles

On that slow arc

Rumored to bend

To perfection

THE STORY OF US

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Speaking of time, I took a course

To sate curiosity

Just how someone else believes

Our super species came to be

~

The Story of Us told online

Puts to rest the tooth & nail

Survival, fittest at the top

of the mountain from which we hail

~

Twas not the ax or large of tooth

That got us to the peak

Sizeless and vulnerable all we had

Was our ability to speak

~

A warring species we overcame

Doubt and annihilation

With voice and reason we invented

Inner-species cooperation

~

No easy ride to top of the chain

Even so it happened fast

Early sapiens frightened sheep

How long could this good thing last

~

Doubt returned to fortify

Ourselves against the other

We don the pelt and tooth of wolf

Taking aim against our brother

~

Now we strut our claws and fangs

To intimidate the weak

What’s more dangerous than angry wolves?

Frightened, heavily armed sheep

The Ghosts of Jr. High

Jr. hi sch

They advertise the old junior high school now

as luxury apartments.

A community of renters of classrooms now

better used as kitchens, bedrooms and

living spaces.

 

I wonder about the Feng Shui of old schools –

is there such a thing?

What about the sleepwalking renter who turns

down the wrong hallway and finds himself

at the mercy of the bruised hands of the bully.

He better keep lunch money in his pajamas

to soften the blows.

Bullies don’t die; they are the hissing saboteurs

that live long on the shoulders of the bullied. I know

I wonder about that old mattresses full of dirty secrets

from the musty storage area under the auditorium stage?

 

What about the science labs? All those electrical outlets?

To be used in the bedrooms maybe?

 

And the principal’s office? Those silent walls painted in a white

sadness faded gray with by the

hollow projections of success. And the chairs

just outside – chairs that held the scared &

waiting and the tears of the kid who solved

her problems with her fists, whose father

would do the same.

Ahh, those weighted 10 minutes felt an

unmerciful hour of despair – many times.

 What about the guidance office – off course for sure –

 sailing past abridged horizons of the disadvantaged

 rich and poor. The test scores that tell too little locked

 away from any potential help.

 

What about the cafeteria; that battlefield of emotion

all watched over by bullets and targets.

Fear palpable, quaking food trays

passing the cool tables. Hip A&F, Gap,

& old navy, establishing beachheads

waiting for dispatches from the

cute banana republics

shielding frightened dictators

in well-decorated spider holes.

 

And the gymnasium with its polished hardwood that

felt like stone when struck by the head.

What about the janitor who cleaned that

hardwood of blood that gushed

from your wound? Did he harbor sympathy

for you? For your victimhood? Or did he give

that imperceptible nod to an abuser’s covenant?

 

And what about the locker rooms and the gym

teacher who waved, back and forth, a

yardstick through your new Afro laughing

derisively in spite of her over-pressed &

outdated hairstyle?

 

And remember your heart breaking with all the pain

of a truth  that couldn’t be spoken.

 

On Sunday, there will be an open house at the old

junior high school that has been converted into

luxury apartments.

No need to go. I’ve seen it all before.

SPRING – Vol. II

Swans overhd

Comes in on muddy skids

Ignoring the calendar

Shaving its low gray brow

Undercover of a high cloudy sky

Wet with anticipation

It comes in when you see & hear

The great white flock

Of tundra swans

Trailed by a few dark geese all

Bellowing goodbyes

From overhead

 It comes

The day you’ve had enough of

Of ice and frozen bones

The day you refuse to acquiesce

To your bed until the sun breaks the spell

Shaking off the coldest month

In the history of keeping warm

 It comes

The day you throw

Off winter covers & sing songs

Warm enough to overtake

The sorrow that is homemade

And unnecessary

 

Morning’s Reflection

CROP OakAlley Plantat Louisiana

FEAR: that invention that keeps us good

Believing in that house at

The end of a road

Paved with distraction

No signs posted for talent or genius nor

turnoffs for iron-hard reality – adulthood

That cul-de-sac of desire

Fear-driven success

The locking mechanism

Brings dispatches

From the big house –

The brain;

That Swiss Army Knife of survival

In the Kitchen of Memory

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Theirs are the young faces brightened

By the garish blue-light of their toys

They look up to cast wary, beleaguered eyes at us

“What do we know?”

We have left the living rooms to them for their disposal

Seated on comfortable sofas and chairs – our gifts for their retreat

We huddle in kitchens preparing healthy meals

For children who are no longer

And will have nothing to eat

As they rewrite their lives in 140 characters or less

Living on likes and bytes

No thought given to the time-capsule in the attic

The one that holds the baby clothes and tangible

Photographs of all their ‘firsts.’

And the trunk jammed packed with sheet

Music for instruments

They’ve forgotten how to play

Maybe they’ll want to explore one day

Like they used to

Sneak into the attic and see the Polaroids –

The young, beautiful couple beaming at their baby

“Who are they?”

They are the originators of your story

The authors who’ve shared the same pen

Picking up when one partner drifts off

Crawling away to heal the cuts

To hearts now cowering in kitchens

Licking the sweet spoons of memory

A Country For No Child

Jaime Kalenga, whose mother died in labor, suffers from malnutrition and tuberculosis. Credit Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times
Jaime Kalenga, whose mother died in labor, suffers from malnutrition and tuberculosis. Credit Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times

There is a country rich in diamonds,

Oil and foreign sports cars

I know this – having read it in

The Times

This is a country in which one child

In six will die before the age of five

Says The Times’ Kristof

But I live in a country that cares

About children – Some of us

Care so much we call authorities

On parents whose children walk

Home from the park – alone

Keeping our children absurdly safe

Ignoring the Angolan mother holding

The “twig limbs,” swollen belly, wizened face

Of the near carcass that is her child

She’s waiting for care from the few who do

Those people who come from far off places to nurse and

Heal everyone’s children

Those people who know that diamonds

Are friend to no one

The people who recognize

The diamond’s sparkle

Being stolen everyday

From the eyes of babies

Leaving in its place a

Haunted spectacle, skeletal frame

Held together in wrinkled brown

Wrappings of skin

THE LIFE LIMITED

train head-on

Not the express

The one gladly missed

Dawdling on life’s platform

Counting cars

Windows flashing light

Quick, dark faces inert

Blank stare ahead

Glimpsing the gold

Coins of paradise

Gone too soon

We, unhurried & unnoticed

Age and wisdom

In separate cars

On that same track

Tearing through

A landscape of

Scattered grace