A man lies sleeping
or unconscious on the sidewalk while
a kneeling fireman checks his—what?
Breath, or pulse. His mechanisms.
He has some moving parts. Lungs expand
heart pumps and what is more mechanical
than a pump? Still there are questions
about brain function. These are vital signs--
maybe in the back
of the ambulance is one of those contraptions--
metal disks with wires yellow green
stick them on your head it makes a ticker tape
of how your brain arcs little sparks
between cells of the tissue packed in your skull.
That’s how you make a fist or blow a kiss. Signals
travel on pathways trafficking your impulses
branching to your extremities. Someone told us that
but it's pure horseshit. You have no idea
how you make a fist or blow a kiss
it's second nature,
it's just obvious.
Even the foremost neurologist can’t tell us how
without resorting to a shrug.
The world ends today.
on horses stampede
with drawn swords
torches and malice
from the hills above the village.
In a blinding moment
they are on us, a furious storm
of bloodlust with wild eyes.
Our home's aflame
children fall beneath hooves
from distant towns with strange names,
foreign kings we never--
Today the world ends.
I chop off the head of the snake.
Its reptile eyes refuse to darken
its jaws stretch open, gaping
in defiance, the long muscle of body
stretches to rejoin the head
urging toward resurrection.
The world ends
in the place where my father vanished
where my mother baptized me
where I carry the head
of the snake in one fist
and the body in the other.
I wave the world into existence
with a gesture, a prying open,
a stretching of something spinal,
a willing for what is emergent.
There are two of me
One is bright as the sun
with a voice like music
tossing picked flowers
into the wind runs
laughing to the water’s edge
and jumps in with
he darkens over
shadowed by the same
old terror that seizes
every perfect innocent
who discovers this
is a world of arbitrary death
and no one can change that
or stop it
The other one of me
is his father
who cradles his head
strokes his hair
who has been defeated
laid down his life
so there is nothing
more to do in the end
quietly and love
Death does not wait for us
it does not hover frozen in future time
it does not give chase.
I do not feel it in my gut
like my father does
walking the dog early in the morning
hours borrowed with a collateral
of bypass surgery and low sodium.
Death is the seabed accruing.
We drift down, particulate,
a gradual disintegration
of layers like the crumbling
of sandstone cliffs in a million
tiny landslides, each dropping a handful
of pebbles from the walls.
Poems from Other Days