That was the horse looking at me again
Because the way I was standing was too noisy.
I turned my head so that my gaze
Fell upon the brown, watery eye.
I was not afraid. Half-crazed
I had climbed the steep hill
In search of the wild horses,
Abandoned from logging days, that still
Roam the mountainside. What was surprising
Was not the horse’s apparent tameness
But the silence of his coming over the rise,
And the way he advanced straight toward me,
As if to present himself to me, for my inspection,
And to ask, What is it you want of me?
Then five more came over the hill, like a posse.
He Looked Around the Room
As if he were smearing on make-up
Or rubbing an itchy patch of skin,
Unable to think of anything to say,
He looked around the room,
And saw that there was no way
He could please everyone.
How long will they stand for it,
He wondered. The longer he waited
The less likely they were to listen.
One by one they began to move
Outside, onto the balcony, not hiding
Their disappointment. It would be wiser,
He concluded, to say nothing at all,
Rather than risk having the wool
Pulled over his eyes, yet again.
The snow continued to fall
But the thought of turning back never
Entered his mind. At the end of the street,
And across the tracks, was a different
World, where, at long last, he would meet
His double, the one who had failed
To make something of himself,
Who had murdered and been jailed,
But clung to this last, feeble hope
For redemption. But what could he,
Who had fled the dominion of dope,
Who had made a life for himself, free
From the endless strife that had always
Plagued his double like a swarm of bees,
What could he do to set things right?
The Strain of Never Knowing
Always there in that soft corner,
Quiet, alone, barely visible,
Tired of the bickering,
Waiting for night to come,
Waiting for the snickering
Voices to fall
Silent, the thump thump thump
Of the music, like a ball
Careening in the cage of the brain,
Beyond what any sane person
Should have to endure, the strain
Of never knowing what to believe,
The absence of all hope,
The desire to relieve
The pressure, fizzle out.
Whispers in Hallways
There were whispers in hallways,
Phone calls no one wanted
Him to hear, email messages
Deleted the moment he walked
Into the room, passages
Cut from company books.
He was reluctant to leave the house,
Afraid he might invite looks
Of disapproval and scorn.
He felt safer inside,
Listening to music, watching porn,
Venturing out late at night
Into the all-but-deserted streets,
Resisting the urge to fight
The first fellow that came along.
A Special Talent
He had a special talent for affability.
In his youth, when his friends
Drank too much and became loud
And abusive, he remained silent,
Not to excuse them but too proud
To tell them what they
Thought they wanted to hear.
Later, when he lost his own way,
With the death of his father,
He seemed to suffer one piece
Of misfortune after another.
A brother died of dementia.
The woman he married left him.
His daughter, in absentia,
Made it clear she blamed
Him. Troubles dogged him,
But he kept his smile and the same
Ease in being with people, to the end.
A Man of No Consequence
Where the windows look out on the night,
Where the moon drifts among clouds,
Where the owl hoots and the cat screams,
Where the sun never rises,
A man of no consequence dreams
He is late, but for what – is not clear.
A meeting that will determine
His fate. He has nothing to fear,
He tells himself, while his hands
Shake and sweat pours from his face.
As far as the eye can see, these lands
Belong to him, as it’s written
In the book for anyone who cares
To look. He’s hopelessly smitten
And will do whatever it takes.
People walk in various
Rhythms, some on the grass,
Some on the street,
All going in the same direction,
With no sense of panic, only
A need to find a place
Where they can feel safe.
Behind them, a dust cloud
Drags at their feet, like
Tangled strands of kelp
In the shallows of the sea.
A woman in a wheelchair,
At the end of her endurance,
Cries softly to herself.
A man leans down
And offers to help, but
She waves him away.
He is ash gray.
A Beautiful Lie
While the tide keeps going out
And the mud flats grow wide
And the fog, like the footfall
Of a vaporous mountain, rolls
Into the mouth of the bay, the tall
Man, rising up out of the water,
Approaches the circle of revelers
Gathered around his daughter
As around a fire. For years
She’s been on the run, and now,
If he sees her at all, it is with tears
In his eyes, an ache in his heart
And no joy. What comfort can he
Find in her return? To him,
It feels like a beautiful lie.
As Real, As Solid
I wanted to get the tears
Out of the way and act
As I always do with you,
As if nothing from those
Early days, before we met,
Remains. As if nothing,
Not a shadow, plays
Across the fields and
The trees that surround
And protect this house
That we call home, where
We’ve found just enough
Of what we feel, what
We think, what we believe,
To become as real, as
Solid, as anything that has
Gone before. But sometimes,
When I least expect it,
I hear her name, the door
Opens, and I step out,
Into the void.