I-75 Rush Hour

It’s running with bulls,
stampeding, semis running
over the raucous rumble-strip
with a sucker-punctured rear
tire. Parked like sardines in
a writhing school, brakes
clamoring for relief, bands
knotted together on CB
radio, sea of grass around them.

Each dash of the lane-lines like a tooth
on a grinding table saw, sprinting
along and splitting the rippled
concrete like a bowsprit,
splintering the waves of
exhausted fume-sputters.

Pontificating from Sinai; or, How to be Helpful

Pastor preached on pontification
or rather how not to do that
which won’t be found welcoming.

Others look across the sidewalk
cracks, split between family,
work lost, life’s work not yet
ceased, or begun.

Pastor disavowed pontification
or rather why those might
see it thus-becoming.

Be simple, I thought, smile
as that man did to me.
The flash of teeth and recognition
of mutual struggle—familiarity.

Pastor preached pontification
in his sermon, pulpit-driven
beat drumming palms in rhythm with his voice.

The smile faded but his eyes
stayed on me as he strode next
to me, umbrella share, fanned above
the diminished strand between he and I.

Pastor stated—I didn’t want to—
pontificate. Sinai spoke, commanding,
motioned towards the one beside me.

But he had left, umbrella in my hand,
his bus removed. I smiled to a woman
beyond the sidewalk, cracked her teeth
open as I offered a half of his umbrella.

Pastor asked ‘Who are we reaching?’
outside pontification. I didn’t know
who.

The rain fell beyond the umbrella.
We just talked, simply, and
she thanked me. I didn’t need
a whole umbrella.

Pastor preached on kindness—why
pontificate? He could share a story
of a bus-stop in the rain.

 

10/3/16

Wilted Words

I like to think that first pen or stylus in Mesopotamia
was used to send something sweet to a lover far away.
A clay tablet left upon the doorstep of a restless woman
awaiting his return. Or, perhaps a dream inscribed on papyrus
about the songs she’d whisper when he arrives, tucked
into his belt – not less important than his sword,
closer to his heart than his shield.

I hope the realization of a need for transcription arose
from a knowledge that flowers would not last
the journey home. A thistle, wilted in the hands
of a kilted warlord, reduced mostly to nothing
once he reached his fair maiden.

Words can’t wilt, however, and, while mysterious
to the unintended reader, can hold so much more
for those addressed. They mark the voice of a distant
love, the mannerisms and inflection of speech
upon lips easily imagined. Or, at least I like to think
they do.

Learning from the Gulls

It’s gusty today.
My hair flaps in my face,
unable to follow the course I give it.

I saw a gull out the window.
Thinking she wind-struck as well,
I watched, amused, as she plodded on—
flapping, bullishly head-down.

Then—swoop! She was blown
away, off course, falling, engine
stalling, down towards the water.

A half-second later
she came up with a fish
and swallowed it.

Experiment

I know it’s cold.
Earth’s bones are stiff.

I know because below my feet
and the deep dead leaves,
I feel a crunch.

Not a sodden, padded step,
but a crispness only felt
today
maybe tomorrow.

The dirt pushes up from under
each step
and shrugs
off the needles and grass binding.

She resists the advances
of footsteps and Winter,
in her crusty shell of ice
crystals.

I know it’s cold.
My bones are stiff.

I know because below my flushed
shell and the mist
beyond my face
is a satisfaction.

I know I can enter the cold simply
to question whether
or not
it is.

-A.J.M.

Don’t look for Icarus too long

A rush of wings quieted the technicolor spectrum
and sliding over the grass when I blinked at my feet
reverted the meadow to Kansas,

1939, behind falcon-framed shades and dizzy grays.
The moment shattered belief in Emerald City,
as gymnastic contortions pulled vision

up through a waxy and blurred lens—kaleidoscopic
in its melting flowers and stars released from shadow.
The taloned eclipse keeps rising,

and I smile again through eyes that stole the sun’s blue glare,
though next time I might only glance
at the circling dot.

-A.J.M

The Danish

Somebody I know once said the cold is part of him.
The Danish part,
or some loose remnant piece, left-over
from the Vikings, or some such,
still unsettled
but content
in spring air, always
remembering snow, ice
and winter.

He’s a story-teller, storying
an origin space with a state of mind.
Joy is reaching a stiff finger towards the cold air
to find it warmer,
when the heart roars loudly, riding
on the memory of sails
broken out of winter’s iron nails.

So am I.
I’m proud to be jacket-less
when the day I think is winter turns to spring.

-A.J.M.