Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Sonnet for a Sunday - Sting (Fragile)

If blood will flow when
flesh and steel are one,
drying in the colour of the evening sun -
tomorrow's rain will
wash the stains away,
but something in our minds will always stay --
Perhaps this final act was meant
to clinch a lifetime's argument,
that nothing comes from violence
and nothing ever could -
for all those born beneath an angry star
lest we forget how fragile we are --
On and on the rain will fall like tears from a star,
On and on the rain will say how fragile we are.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Shakespeare's Sonnet #25

Let those who are in favour with their stars 
Of public honour and proud titles boast, 
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars, 
Unlook'd for joy in that I honour most. 
Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread 
But as the marigold at the sun's eye, 
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die. 
The painful warrior famoused for fight, 
After a thousand victories once foil'd, 
Is from the book of honour razed quite, 
And all the rest forgot for which he toil'd:
   Then happy I, that love and am beloved 
   Where I may not remove nor be removed.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Morning Walk - Summer Solstice

I make my morning walk today,
it is the summer solstice, after all –
the first morning of summer,
the longest day, the shortest night –

But what good is that, I ask –
a short night is not worth a plug nickel 
(to use my father’s vernacular) –

we love the night,
we make love at night,
sweet love we hope 
will never end,
an endless night of love –
we dream pure dreams 
at night, and pray 
those dreams come true –
we plot and strategize 
our plan of attack 
in the wee hours, 
at the midnight hour, 
at night.  

Of what value, then,
is a short night? 

Crossing the bridge, 
I shift my timepiece 
from 88five to 103five,
“traffic and weather 
together, on the eights,”
and the neurons start to fire
in rapid succession…

the tide is high – 
portions of the shore 
normally exposed
are submerged.  
I pause and watch
as the crawling critters 
flee the flood and seek 
refuge on higher ground,
inching closer and closer 
to the human walking trail –

I see tall stalks 
of phytolacca americana
growing in groves
along the shore, 
sprouting long green leaves,
greens my ancestors used to eat, 
as they headed north
to escape an immoral 
oppression. “It’s poison 
if you don’t cook it right…”
I can hear them whisper 
through the rush 
of the running tide…

my baby sister is writing poetry 
again, mostly in her letters.
I think about her as I turn the corner
onto Frances Scott Key Bridge.  
She is the better poet,
she has the gift, 
the power to apaziguar o dor –
that’s what friends are for.

I’m nearing home, 
my walk almost done.
The longest day of the year
opens its arms before me.
“From the Shenandoah 
to the Chesapeake,”
WTOP says on the radio --
all day long.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sonnet #50

the second infusion
is always smoother --

can't do that with coffee,
a one-trick pony

that gallops quickly
to your main vein.

I was once in love
with a poetry lady

but her best poems
got lost in a flood

and I regret being
so self-obsessed

all those years --
all those trying years.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

I watched a squirrel and a sparrow

I watched a squirrel and a sparrow
play a friendly game of tag last Thursday
in Washington Circle.  The squirrel ran
a zig-zag pattern across the green,
trying to evade the sparrow –
but the sparrow compensated for the zig-zag
by flying up on the zig and back down on the zag,
lightly pecking the squirrel on each descent --
I looked at the lady next to me,
waiting for the green light to cross.
“Did you see that?"  She smiled. She laughed.
“Yes! I saw it! They were having some fun.”
We crossed on green and our paths diverged.

She zigged.  I zagged.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

they clipped my wings

they clipped my wings
to ground me --

but i remembered
(from my childhood)
how to fly -
winglessly --

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Baghdad Nights

Baghdad nights
It was a long-assed day.
We had dinner at the DFAC
and returned to the office.
Finally knocked off around 9pm.
The mandatory protective vest
weighs heavy on my
already tired shoulders –
while the strap connecting the two sides
cuts into my waist as I try to balance
their weight on my
already tired hips -
I lumber on to my
tin-foil hootch
in Embassy Estates on the
the Republican Palace grounds…
It is late.  I shower and
turn on Fox News,
the only station that works.
“In California today, Senator Clinton
said President Johnson
was more important
than Dr. King
to getting the Civil Rights Bill
passed.”  Aw shyt. 
White House better stay white.
I fall asleep reading “Certain to Win,”
one of those Army War College texts
from the Strategic Studies program
I am falling further and further behind in
with each passing Baghdad day.
2am.  The witching hour.
Time for target practice.
I'm awakened by the sound
of the Duck and Cover alarm.
The concrete reinforced shelter is 100 meters
away from my tin-foil hootch –
100 meters as the crow flies…
Nope.  I’ll sit this one out – and pray –
Bong!  Bong!  Bong!  Bong! The alarm
sounds.  I hear people stumbling,
some drunkenly staggering –
to the safety of the shelter.
I shelter in place and
start my usual prayer
(I skip a lot of drills –
and pray a lot - 
these days):
“The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want.
He maketh me ….”
A mortar round flies over
the tin foil roof
of my tin foil hootch –
“....lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me
beside the Still Waters….–“
The round hits the nearby ground.
Maybe it is another dud.
I continue my prayer:
“….He restoreth my soul ---“
It was not a dud.
But I pinch myself and
I am not dead.
I finish my prayer:
“And I will dwell
in the House of the Lord,
Back to sleep.
There is still more night.
And tomorrow
is another Baghdad day.