Data (Written December 30)

Data

 

A reminder of what outlasts everything else,

This building where we can store your data,

Replicate it, and make it extremely durable.

 

Build exactly what you need and we will

Keep it safe for you. Don’t take our word for it.

What makes the world go round? Data.

 

We would not even exist without data,

And that’s why we’re here. As you rate us

Keep in mind that we’re flexible in meeting

 

Your needs, but not in maintaining security.

We spare no expense when it comes to defeating

Any possible threat. We have cameras, guards,

 

Three zones of man-containment, and six

Man-traps at the entrances. We put all our cards

On the table, up front. Trust us. We make things

 

To last a very, very long time. Fires, earthquakes,

Floods, tornados, we are built so that nothing

Can touch us. You can rest assured.

Homeless (Written December 29)

Homeless

 

One of them passes here frequently,

At least once a day, sometimes twice.

He never stops, even when we ask

 

His name. He won’t look at you, or say

Where he’s going. People have tasks

They’d gladly pay him for, but he’s

 

Not interested. He scours the downtown,

And promptly at noon, like clockwork, pees

Against the wall under the bridge.

 

You can see him if you want.

People watch from the ridge

Of the hill and shake their heads.

 

He’s a tall man, in his sixties,

With thinning hair, and it’s said

He’s a former teacher, and a star

 

Athlete in his younger days.

It’s sad to see how far

He’s fallen, but what can you do?

 

He won’t refuse a hand-out,

Unless in the old days he knew you.

Then he backs away, with his head down.

 

He greets his fellow homeless,

But they don’t stick together. It’s frowned

Upon, by the powers that be. Don’t stand

 

Around, it’s against the law. So it goes.

It makes you want to wring your hands.

But what can you do?

She Sees the Goodness (Written December 28)

She Sees the Goodness

 

She marvels at the way the river

Rushes along, clear, cold, so carefree,

Throwing off all thought of things past.

 

She wonders at the beauty of the night sky,

Beyond imagining, so vast,

The stars too numerous to count.

 

She delights in the glory of plants,

The miracle of their re-birth, the bounty,

After winter’s harsh and icy breath.

 

She praises the faithfulness of pets,

Their steadfastness, in life and in death,

The stamp of genuine feeling.

 

She sees the goodness in people’s hearts,

The anonymous ones, and the healing

It brings to a fractured, cynical age.

It’s Over (Written December 27)

It’s Over

 

Without looking up they know the answer.

It’s over. The way home has become

Too dangerous. His idea was to follow

 

The Vaughan Harvey past the hospital,

then another mile or so to Birch Hollow,

But somewhere along the way it all

 

Went very wrong. The wide pavement

Became a mountain road, with falling

Rocks. They had to abandon the car

 

And go by foot with their two children,

Who were tired and frightened and fell far

Behind. What a fool he was! For too long

 

The woman had let him lead the way.

Then one of the children, who belonged

To her, slipped and fell down the hill.

 

And the other child, who was his, did the same,

As if prompted. Fortunately, neither was killed.

They landed in a soft blanket of grass.

 

As a last act he carried them to safety.

She’d once respected him, in the past.

That was over. She’d find her own way.

Master of the Universe (Written December 26)

Master of the Universe

 

I know a hell of a lot more than you know.

How old are you? Everything you know

I could put in a paper bag

 

And drop it in the garbage and nobody

Would know the difference. It makes me gag

When I hear you talk the way you do,

 

As if you were master of the universe.

It leaves me speechless. Screw you too.

The universe you inhabit

 

Is smaller than you think. Nobody

I know would want to live there. So have it

All to yourself, to rule and be ruled.

 

The next time we meet, if ever,

I’ll know better. I won’t be fooled.

I’ll give as good as I get, blow by blow.

Leaving Home (Written December 25)

Leaving Home

 

But a man comes out. He shouts

Something at her as she walks

Away. She gives no sign

 

That she has heard him. Her mind

Is made up. For a while it was fine,

What they had together, but all things

 

Must come to an end. She walks

To the bus stop and waits. She brings

Just a backpack, into which

 

She has stuffed everything she needs.

He’s still there, in the ditch,

Shouting at her, but she doesn’t care.

 

She has to leave now, before

It’s too late. Maybe it’s not fair,

But she has her own

 

Life to lead. When he was her age,

He was the same way, blown

Hither and thither, in a rage.

Christmas Eve (Written December 24)

Christmas Eve

 

I wanted there to be lots of memories.

Without memories you don’t know

Who you are. You’re lost

 

In a cloud of unknowing, like looking

Through a window coated in frost.

You see nothing, just a dim light.

 

Words, numbers, faces, objects,

events, you forget – what a sight!

Here they come, for a visit.

 

They pretend they know who I am.

It’s Christmas Eve. I wouldn’t wish it

On my worst enemy. The faces

 

Come close, with hair and teeth,

Smiling and showing me traces

Of who they might once have been.

 

Now they are nothing to me.

I don’t want to be seen.

I wish they would go.

Bright Shining Light (Written December 23)

Bright Shining Light

 

A jolt it would give them,

If she yelled that into the kitchen.

Fuck Christmas, it’s the worst day

 

Of the year! I wish I was dead!

Whose voice was that, they’d say.

It couldn’t be, she’s never spoken

 

Like that. She’s the one who fixes

What others have broken,

Who finds the silver lining

 

In dark skies, who laughs

And cheers us. She’s the bright shining

Light, who never fails us.

 

To hear her say shit, or fuck you,

Let alone Fuck Christmas!

It blows the mind. Bitching!

Go To Hell (Written December 22)

Go To Hell

 

He could save himself

Hearing any more about it

If he just stayed in his room.

 

What bothered him was the way

They looked at him, so closely,

As he walked up and down

 

The hallway. What had he done?

He had no memory of the clown

He supposedly pushed to the ground.

 

Somebody got in his way, that’s all.

So now, in their wisdom, they found

He was a danger both to himself

 

And to other patients, nurses included.

How did they get to set themselves

Up as judge, jury, and hangman?

 

Why should he stay in his room, where

Nobody ever visited? He had to bang on

The wall to get some attention.

 

There were days, though, when he

Couldn’t stand it one more minute.

Go to hell, he would shout.

What’s It Like To Be Dead? (Written December 21)

What’s It Like To Be Dead?

 

Well there is one way to find out.

The problem is you won’t be able

To tell anyone. So what good

 

Will it do? Something

Closer to home would

Be helpful. For instance,

 

Look at the way the snow falls,

Softly, in a sort of dance,

Intricately choreographed,

 

Yet subject to sudden shifts

In the wind, or strong drafts

That blow in on a whim.

 

Or look at the dove, nearly invisible,

Curled up on the limb

Of the tree, round as a ball,

 

Waiting out the storm, while

Her mate, below, calls

To her, beckoning.