The English Soldier

The English Soldier

There is a soldier dressed
in ancient English wool guarding
the entrance to the inn.
He is lucky for this cool night
awaiting the pomp
of the out of town
wedding party.

He is paid to be unmoved
by the bride’s stunning beauty
or her train
of lesser escorts.

He will not notice
this small stone
set across the square;
His eyes will not glisten
when he hears
that two brothers
fell here,
picked out
of disciplined lines
beating
a hot and hasty retreat
back to Boston.

He will not
chasten his comrades
for leaving them
in foreign dust—
the dull and whistling holes
torn into soft
and homesick wool.

He betrays nothing.

Inscrutable—
he collects his check
and drives home.

 

~The Colonial Inn
  Concord, MA.

In Reply To Einstein

In Reply To Einstein

*God casts the die, not the dice.
~Alfred Einstein

I am cold down the neck,
turtling my head
to showers of ice
that fall
dancing and skidding
on skins of crusted snow.
I hold my breath when I step,
inflating hopes of a weightlessness,
and so be undetected
to the play of gods
who froze the night’s rain,
and set up this morning 
full
of shining and busting—
gambling on rolls,
and chance patterns,
only their joy can see.

Kampuchea

Kampuchea

I stutter for normality
across the river
from black men fishing
for kibbers
and horned pout.

Barefoot children rounded
bellies curled
navels stalk the turtle
sunning on a log.

lonely in the field grass
lonely on the curbstones

I stutter for normality.

Not a mother
whose breasts are dry,
whose child doesn’t cry,
who sleep
on a cot
in a tent.

 

~The Concord River
   
1981

Pruning

Pruning

These trees have driven so many friends batty,
wedged in unstable crotches, embracing
hollow, heart-rotted limbs, reaching tentatively,
maddened with indecision.
From a distance your gestures
are very lobsterlike—
waving a last embattled claw,
as if dueling some carnivorous kin
and are backed into a battle you cannot avoid.

You are disposed towards duality.
I regret what I had told you earlier.
I should have had you attacking the orchard
in a swathlike way, eliminating extremes,
rooting clean at the base the suckers growing
straight up, or down, or in, or across —
the only disarray being strewn limbs
and the slender, whippish water sprouts.

The kids could then follow you
with feigned workishness,
filling the truck they love to drive,
heaping tangled piles down below—
piles that we’ll burn on an eager Sunday,
lighting a tindered-dry Christmas trees
and lobbing gasoline bombs,
heavied with chainsaw oil,
ducking behind flannel arms.

We as talked earlier of a nebulousness
and then defined ourselves in that direction.
It was you who wanted this job,
eager to join the winter pruning.
You were attracted by my talk
of using nothingness,
of anticipating space,
and being at the point of decision —
bridging innumerable futures.

I laugh seeing you now
apoplexed by the tangible,
contorted by inexperience,
frustrated by the tangled gnarl
you are caged in.

The hardest part is always
the leaving out—
begrudging mediocrity,
leaving what should be.

Concord

Concord

The people, the music
filledness of rush hour
traffic skirting puddles
work crews packing in
laughswearingmudyellowed
slickers lighting candle bombs.
My sadness the euphoric
detachment.
I love this town.
It breathes me.

The Fisher

The Fisher

To cast far is to cast well.
I’ve always believed that
the biggest fish are just
beyond my range
and lie in dark water
I could never swim to.

But experience is the wisdom
that has me now casting
closer to shore,
nearest the reeds
and overgrowth — a subtleness
geared to result.

It’s still early in the season
and the beaches are lined
with jars of worms
and salmon eggs —
talk of bag limits
and hatchery trucks.

I’m glad though to see
the lines
with hooks and bobbers
already hung up
in limbs of overhanging oaks —
caught there by kids
who swear and pull
and fall on their ass.

They see my fish and ask
where they are
and how to catch them.

I tell them
they have the right idea
and to just keep
humming it out there.

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