WHEN

When the world has turned worse

but will soon be even more so

what is one to think?

When memory and meaning

live only at the Lost and Found

what is one to think?

When the past is no prologue

but the present is an epilogue

what is one to think?

When life is really like

a tale told by an idiot

what is one to think?

When leftovers of a life

litter the landscape

what is one to think?

When thought itself

turns the great sea black

what is one to think?

 

THE DREAM

In the Picasso lithograph hanging on the wall,

The Artist and His Model,”

the artist looks at himself

painting the model.

The image is in a mirror.

The picture in my house is on the wall

facing a mirror,

and is reflected in it.

The mirror shows the painter

looking at himself

painting a model

who is also looking at herself.

I look at myself all the time.

Sometimes I look at myself

looking at myself.

Sometimes I dream,

and sometimes I dream

I am dreaming.

I do not need a mirror.

I do not dream

I am painting myself.

I am not a painter.

I am a writer

Writers have different dreams.

 

BECOMING

Hot becomes cold

Carbon becomes diamonds

Plutonium becomes inert

Mass becomes energy

Clean becomes dirty

Like becomes love becomes like becomes nothing

Life becomes death becomes fertilizer becomes life

Sea becomes vapor becomes cloud becomes rain becomes sea.

Becoming is the only surety

in a world of transformations.

 

Photo by Thelma Bowles.

THE BRANCH

A huge and heavy branch hangs

by the slimmest sliver of bark.

The ponderosa pine is vast and ancient,

twisted and tortured by time,

bent by wind, damaged by drought,

outliving lightning strikes, blizzards

and all the other ravages that age inflicts.

Some day when no one is looking or listening

that branch will thunder down,

smashing the frail oak saplings and feeble fence beneath.

Like me,

that huge and heavy branch has history

and could leave a bit of devastation in its wake.

 

HARD AND NOT

Some things are hard:

lead

diamonds

obsidian

ice

rock

writing a novel.

Some things are not:

snow

skin

tears

smiles

mashed potatoes

writing a poem.

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