I walked grimly

I walked grimly,
bile rising to burn my throat,
the rage of nations pounding
my head.

I walked slowly, staring at the ground;
feeling each step: foot, ankle, knee;
the thud of my joints, the methodical
plod of life.

I passed a field.
A mare and her colts grazed
A midnight snack.
Their hooves struck the earth
with a solid thump;
they snorted in content
as they chewed mouthfuls
of grass.

I walked on.
My pace quickened;
I gulped air;
the rage of nations
subsided before
the joy of life.

Abbey Vineyard

After a rain, blood drips from the vines
Onto upturned clover tongues.

Or so it seems to the old monk
Who tends the abbey grapes.

As he walks slowly
Down the glistening rows of fruit,
He stops and stoops
To lift a fallen branch,
Cradle it in his arms,
Return it to its proper place.

The harvest is a bitter blessing.
Grapes are crushed.
They become
The wine of eternal life.

A lover’s vision

Like the sun’s unfailing journey
from east to west through the azure sky:
I will come to you and you to me
and flocks of inky ravens will fly
above the stubbled fields of wheat
which sprawl to the edge of the earth.

The wind will run with child’s feet
and dissonantly sing the birth
of winter. Rusty brown loam
will perfume the air and I will be
satisfied. A pilgrim come home,
rewarded for his piety.

My dream fades, leaves mist in my eyes.
This fool’s solace never satisfies.

If ever my love grows cold

If ever my love grows cold; should snow encrust
my heart, remind me then on that winter day
of this tulip-filled afternoon. If rust
collects on my thirsty throat, then you may
wash it clean with singing and good wine.

If my taste ever turns to things less sweet
than your kiss, touch your lips softly to mine
like the golden whisper of wind on wheat.

If my senses fail and your beauty
can no longer light my days, do not fear.
For I’ve fixed you in mind; and my duty:
to nurture you in my inmost eye an ear.

Though chance and change bend all men to their will,
love stands outside them; they do us no ill.

Rhein-​Main Airfield, December, 1944

The three of them stood, waiting, at dawn;
pilot, cryptographer, guard,
watching cloudy, dull-red fingers extend
over earth. Each was wrapped in a drab
green coat and cloaked in his thoughts.
Breath hung from their mouths and nostrils.

The pilot stared at the bloody sun,
uncomfortable with feet on ground.
The cryptographer leaned on a doorframe
cooly; his eyes half-hooded but wary.
The guard shifted from foot to foot, searched
his coat for a cigarette.

As he pulled out the pack his hand brushed
the page that lay heavy against his chest:
Make sure the code-man gets on the plane.
If attacked, do not let him be taken alive.

After a Storm

The sky is television gray today.
City streets are slick and shiny;
buildings drenched with soot coughed from clouds.
No rainbows break the drudge today; instead
I found one fetal,
dying
splashed in black puddles inside
this parking garage.
The sky is television gray today; halogen
light throws skylines into harsh black and white
relief.
Another rerun.

I feel the world

I feel the world passing away.
It slips like sand through a child’s hand,
as she sits on the beach building castles.

She sits, building castles; the sea roars
behind her; she lends it no ear,
intent on her work.

We learn to fight chaos when we are young;
to build sand castles, and pretend not to notice
the ocean, sitting, waiting.