What She Most Desired (Written October 30)

What She Most Desired

 

Letting him in, even, strangely,

A little wary, remembering her vow,

She remained silent. According

 

To him, he’d done nothing wrong,

In the same way that a collector, hoarding

His treasure trove, feels no need to answer

 

To anyone. For too long she’d lived

In his shadow, which, like a cancer,

Threatened to destroy whatever sense

 

Of self she’d been able to preserve.

What she most desired was a fence

Around her property, and the power

 

To let some people in and keep

Others out. Why did she still cower

Before him, when it was clear

 

He had nothing to give, and nothing

To take? What did she fear?

She had only to live in the moment.

Going Deaf (Written October 29)

Going Deaf

 

He put his fingers to his forehead

Like someone lost in thought,

Or like someone who will soon

 

Have to talk in front of a large crowd.

The person next to him tapped his spoon

Against a glass, but he didn’t hear.

 

When the others stood up, he stood up.

One by one they left the room, to loud cheers.

He followed, but stayed far behind.

 

He did not know what was happening.

He needed a moment alone, to find

His bearings, but he felt dragged along

 

With the others. He smiled in answer

To a question. Somewhere a gong

Sounded. It was almost painful.

 

When he tried to speak, his voice broke,

As if he had something shameful

To hide, and now he’d been caught.

Stop Right There (Written October 28)

Stop Right There

 

You really should stop right there,

Before you say something you’ll regret.

If she stepped on your toes,

 

You can bet it was not without a reason.

Bitching will only add to your woes.

The point is, she’s got bigger fish

 

To fry, and you, my boy, don’t even figure

In her calculations. Let her dish

It out and take all the credit.

 

Do you think she cares one way

Or the other what you think? Said it

Once, said it twice, the only loser

 

In the long run is you, with your

Enhanced reputation as a boozer.

I’ve never seen you this upset.

Hardly a Saint (Written October 27)

Hardly a Saint

 

Barely able to see in the gloom,

Breathing the stench of tar, paint

Thinner, and urine, he felt

 

His way along the cold wall

To a table piled high with pelts

Of fox, beaver, and muskrat.

 

In the corner, on a raised platform,

Was the rack with his guns. A bat

Flew at him and swooped away

 

Into the dark. The ironing board

Lay flat, unused since his last stay,

More than a month ago, before

 

His present troubles began. A bookcase

At the back of the room, where he stored

His journals and his photographs, leaned

 

Precariously to one side. What use were

These memories to him now? The fiend

Was at his back, and he, hardly a saint.

One Stroke After Another (Written October 26)

One Stroke After Another

 

Every gesture, however ill-advised

And ill-conceived, brought to life

Something that had not till then existed.

 

Everything lived in the moment,

Or not at all. Whatever resisted

This movement through time and space

 

He brushed aside, like flakes

Of dried paint, in the race

To completion. One stroke

 

Brought forth another stroke,

And so on, until he woke

From his trance, as surprised

 

As anyone at what he had done.

It was not the finished canvas he prized,

But the way the brush cut like a knife.

The Wild Wood (Written October 25)

The Wild Wood

 

Into the wild wood, where there are

No plates and no stitching. No tears

And no bitching. Only the wind

 

In the leaves. The chickadees chirping.

Nothing to claim, nothing to rescind.

The trace of an airplane high above

 

In the blue sky. No entrances

And no exits. The push and shove

Of the crows on the branch of a tree.

 

The rust-colored mushroom in the green

Tuft of moss. Everything fresh, everything free.

The tamarack by the side of a creek.

 

Squirrels fretting, owls hooting, deer

Turning. A carpet of pine needles.

The sun through the clouds. No fears.

The Wizard of Pain (Written October 24)

The Wizard of Pain

 

She should have talked to him,

She should have made him explain.

Wobbly, dirty, all he wanted, he said,

 

Was to sleep. The police, when they came,

Didn’t seem to care. Reluctantly, she led

Him down the stairs to the basement.

 

He kicked off his shoes and flopped on the bed,

Where he promptly passed out. The casement

Was partially open and the warm summer breeze

 

Smelled of lily-of-the-valley. She sat a moment

By his side. A car turned into the driveway. Please

Don’t let him lose his temper, she prayed,

 

As her husband came down the stairs.  She

Tried to explain, to no avail. He should have stayed

Where he was, not here. Let him sleep,

 

She said, and we’ll sort it out in the morning.

But he slipped out before dawn, to keep

His appointment with the wizard of pain.

Lucky the Woman (Written October 23)

Lucky the Woman

 

Now I come to think of it, most of my life

Has been like that. Waiting for the other shoe

To drop. The casual (or not so casual) word

 

Aimed (consciously or not) at re-opening wounds

That have never completely healed. Loser, nerd,

Fat ass, beanpole, dwarf, horse face, buck teeth,

 

Blind, deaf, dumb, queer, and all the racial

Slurs, such a storehouse of enmity just beneath

The surface, to be showered upon the weak.

 

Lucky the man and lucky the woman

Who does not hate the way she speaks

Or the way she looks. No matter how beautiful

 

She is, it is her weak spot, where she feels

Most vulnerable, that she scrutinizes

With the laser beam of her self-doubt.

Lost Love (Written October 22)

Lost Love

 

There was still light filtering through the trees

And I thought if I could just keep heading

In that direction, I’d come to a road,

 

Or a train track, or some sign

Of human habitation. It was getting cold.

The crows were making a racket in the trees

 

As they settled in for the night. But where

Would I find shelter if I didn’t want to freeze?

In the gloom I had to admit

 

I was lost. The first rule of this new place

Where I’m staying is, it’s not permitted

To wander off on your own. But it’s been

 

A year since my wife died, I forget

Her name, and I wanted to find the inn

Where we first met and made love.

 

It was somewhere in these woods,

Down by the river, where the dove

Cooed, and we played havoc with the bedding.

The Dwarf (Written October 21)

The Dwarf

 

He saw that people could take advantage of her

In a lot of ways. She was very sensitive

To the kind of language people used,

 

As those in a minority tend to be. Words

Were loaded guns, and she too readily confused

An empty click with a lethal blast. She suspected

 

A hidden meaning, a subtle dig. She knew

How people talked in private, that they respected

Very little, even the best of them, in unguarded

 

Moments. Because she was short, people assumed

She would do the dirty work, and so they lorded

It over her. She played along because she wanted

 

Everyone to think she was just like them,

But she wasn’t. He saw how stunted

She was, and how she put on the mask

 

Of indifference. He hated it when she betrayed

Herself like this, taking herself to task,

Becoming more and more withdrawn.