Surrounded by a division of gulls, shrieking and yapping like Confederates at Gettysburg—
my feet ecstatic in the muddy sand.
An ocean liner with laborious elegance riding the water, my imagination robust, putting me aboard
to walk the decks with a woman who’s auburn hair actually does dance in the breezy, hot air.
Remembering the boy in school
who was often admonished to avoid the slightest hint of slothfulness—
“Good thing you never went along”
the woman says, taking off her summer dress and going to lie on the cabin bed, looking over my shoulder at the cornucopia
of stars the late night has produced, effortlessly.
A REVOLUTION, AFTER ALL
We talked politics so long and so hard that we finally quit to concentrate on the constitution of the sky, noticing the buds on the trees growing, the sun confidently starting to show itself. We decided to cook slowly until days end and toasted our wine glasses to the red cardinals and Cuban doves who’d flown by our windows, turning and soaring with the grace and guile of jet pilots every revolution adores. We put the political books back on the shelf and went to bed and dreamed of tomorrow which we believed would be a few degrees better and allow us to sleep in late and in peace.
FAME LEAVING, CALLOUS TO THE CORE
if there weren’t famous people who would feel neglected? --Du Fu
At least fame, having never paid a visit, won’t get the satisfaction pulling this on me.
At least in my lone night boat I won’t be as lonely as at a party, in a crowd of star-struck devotees.
At least I won’t need to account for my wisdom or lack thereof, any stupidity defended by my legions.
At least I won’t feel betrayed by the cosmos, believing no one understood whatever genius I thought I was.
At least I won’t ever feel so abandoned, such anguish, I’ll disappear into the fog grateful, quietly as a dragonfly.
A LETTER FROM A WAR ZONE
The letter is imaginary but the woman who wrote it is not: I saw her on television, standing beside a brunt-out building, waving as if she had seen a friend or a lover coming her way after months of separation. In her letter she documents the travail and tragedy but also mentions how sometimes after a shelling the light will waft through the streets “like a thin blanket of magical honey” and the moment a red cardinal appeared, claiming its part of the rubble. My friend saw a red cardinal land and preen on the windowsill of his hospital room, minutes before he was wheeled into surgery. I’m waiting for a red cardinal too, confident it will come in my direction. The letter ends “One day you’ll bring me chocolates and I’ll greet you with roses”—I fold the letter and wedge it between the pages of a great book, another author who tried to sneak in a handful of grace amidst the divisions of sadness, doing his best with the only weapon he ever had.