Sea Battle (Written April 9)

Sea Battle

 

The shoreline was on her left,

But still a ways off. Each pull

On the oars was more pain

 

Than she thought she could endure.

Her hands were raw and stained

With blood from hours of rowing

 

Against the current. She was cold

And floundering. A wind blowing

Up swift and sudden had flipped

 

Her father’s sailboat and thrown them

Into the water. The life raft, clipped

From its hook, floated free,

 

And he pulled her in. The effort

Was too much for his weak

Heart, which gave out. Her bones

 

Banging the bench, her hands

Twisted like talons, unearthly moans

In her throat, she battled the sea.

Caged (Written April 8)

Caged

 

As if they’d been caught

And caged, he kept them

To himself, and very rarely

 

Let them loose, to fly about.

They were visible, but barely,

Even to his own familiar eyes.

 

He had buried them very deep,

Because he knew, after many tries,

Just how easily they were hurt.

 

He listened to them when he could,

But it was like throwing dirt

In their faces. They wanted out,

 

And could not understand

Why he resisted so strongly.

They smoldered, like a fire

 

That might explode some day,

Or might simply expire,

And leave him bereft.

Pure Fabrication (Written April 7)

Pure Fabrication

 

He pretended to wipe the sweat

Off his forehead. The end

Was within sight. He broke

 

The last of the ice into bits and

Hurled them aside with a stroke

Of his shovel. Anne, his wife,

 

Cheered him on. It was a warm

Day in spring, and the air was ripe

With anticipation. He felt a sweat

 

Break out on his chest and arms,

But the forehead was pure

Fabrication. The way to the shack

 

Was clear now, for the first time

In weeks, in months, since back

In December. All winter he’d made

 

Very slow progress on the great work.

In truth, he felt blocked, and played

Upon, from the kitchen to the bedroom

 

And back again. Now, with the shack,

It would be like entering into a tomb,

Where everything dead comes alive.

Passage (Written April 5)

Passage

 

He clings to him full-body,

His face buried in the mane.

One of his legs is thrown over

 

The far side of the horse,

The other is bent, with the knee

Down and the foot on the rump,

 

The heel pointing away. He is naked.

His skin is the same golden white

As the horse’s. His hair is the same

 

Black as the thicket of trees

In the background, which is blurry,

With patches of sun falling through.

 

The horse stands in belly-deep water

Near the edge of a pond, his eye

Open, his muzzle almost touching

 

The water. The man’s long arm

Lies across the muscular shoulder.

His face is pressed into the neck.

 

He does not want ever to let go.

He is in bliss. The horse feels

The man on his back, and the hot tears.

The Work (Written April 4)

The Work

 

At his job, with its flexible hours,

What mattered was the quality

Of the work produced, not

 

The quantity. Often he’d stop

Before noon, take a shot

Of whiskey and go walking.

 

He liked to be alone. Many

Of his best ideas came

When he was alone.

 

He’d say the words over

And over until he’d woven

A sort of magical spell.

 

He had a few friends he trusted,

But tried to avoid everyone else.

The work was his gift to the world.

House On Fire (Written April 3)

House On Fire

 

No accomplishments. Nothing

To make family or country proud.

An ordinary life. No career

 

He can point to, and measure

Himself by. Nothing to cheer

For, fervently. No real

 

And lasting impact on the world.

Still, he doesn’t feel

It’s been a waste. What matters

 

Is that he is alive, he can

breathe, the bladder

works, the heart pumps.

 

He can do what he wants.

He has friends. When he jumps,

The birds scatter.

Very Naïve (Written April 2)

Very Naïve

 

Not that I’d paid much attention

To her these last few months,

Since she’d started to homeschool

 

Her boy. She kept more and more

To herself. I remember once, though,

She talked at some length about

 

The problems she’d had with his teachers.

In her mind there was no doubt

That they were the cause

 

Of everything. After fighting

The system for years, with the laws

Stacked against her, she welcomed

 

This new arrangement. Her ex-

Husband came on the weekends

To teach the boy history, math,

 

And the other sciences. Eventually,

He moved away. Ryan laughed and laughed

When he left. He locked the door

 

To his room and wouldn’t come out.

She said it was because of his poor

Self-esteem. She was very naïve.

I’ll Come Right Over (Written April 1)

I’ll Come Right Over

 

If you’re having trouble sleeping

Or anything, just call, okay?

You’ve been through a lot,

 

So it’s no wonder you’re feeling

A little down. You’ve got

My number, so don’t hesitate.

 

I’m always here, or you can

Leave a message. The state

You’re in, you shouldn’t be

 

Alone. I’ll come right over.

From my window I can see

The downtown, and the sun

 

Breaking through the clouds.

What you’re dealing with is no fun,

I know, but it will soon be over.

All the Joy (Written March 31)

All the Joy

 

They went on, more idly than before.

The lights from the bars and eateries

Along the shore grew dim, as they

 

Climbed the hill above the bay.

The man, with nothing to say,

Walked ahead, alone. The boy,

 

A little afraid of him,

Kept his distance. All the joy

He’d felt, on first meeting

 

His father, had turned to ashes,

After the drunken scene

On the boat, the screams,

 

And the fight that ensued.

It was like a bad dream.

Was it asking too much,

 

Just this one time, to make

The effort, and stay sober,

For the sake of his son?