Mirror, Mirror

Flashing flag-pins from lapels,
….. the rivals order God
….. to “bless America.”
….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. They ought
….. to know (but don’t) that language
….. loses in fervor what
….. it gains in bombast.
………. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..  It’s like
….. comparing love vowed in a whisper
….. with love proclaimed in High C
….. above High C.
……… ….. ….. ….. …..  Or “I love you”
….. handwritten with “I LOVE YOU”
….. skywritten in space by a pilot
….. in a Piper Cub.
……… ….. ….. ….. ….. . Fervor
….. is not inclined to bow
….. to anyone called Your Eminence,
….. Your Highness or Your Anything,
….. or honor honors never earned,
….. or trust those who say “Trust me,”
….. or take as true all smiles
….. smiled for photographers….
Even as I write these words,
….. I’m not at peace with writing them.
I sound like some aloof
….. headmaster scolding truants.
It makes me little different
….. from those who criticize so they
….. can feel better while those
….. they criticize are doing just
….. the same for opposite reasons.

Backyard Zoo

Twin foxes today, not quite
as red as expected, but foxes
for certain…
Yesterday a possum
on the window ledge, leaving
his paw prints on the glass…
Otherwise the usual: white-tailed
fawns or young does tripping
like ballerinas in the grass,
a male wild turkey splaying
tail feathers in a fan, groundhogs
and chipmunks in open stealth,
a pheasant parading like a king
with seven queens, a skunk
protected by the private threat
of stench, a turtle mimicking
a soldier’s helmet on legs
and plodding east southeast..
My backyard’s home to all.
Roofed from birth, the turtle
disagrees.
He has no truer
home to seek than where
he is no matter where
he is or where he goes.
If he gets there, he gets there.
If not, he’s there already.

To Walk on Art

Hamadan, sirouk, bokhara—
..such rugs can take a year
..or more to weave.
………………………………Colored
..with vegetable dyes, the hues
..intensify and blend the more
..the rugs are used.
………………………………A royal
..bokhara requires three hundred
..hand-tied knots per square
..inch.
…………Conceding that only God
..is perfect, the weavers tie
..the first knot wrong by choice …
My father dealt in oriental
..rugs and knew each type
..by name.
………………..He saw them all
..as more than goods.
………………………………….Sculptures
..and paintings were made to be seen,
..but rugs for him were usefully
..beautiful.
………………..Often after decades
..he would buy back rugs
..from their original owners
..for the price paid or more.
He walked on oriental rugs
..with care as if in tribute
..to the weavers who went beyond
..art for art’s sake to make
..what turned more beautiful with wear.

Finders, Losers

I’ve reached a point where time
..is only what passes between
..appointments, dental checkups,
..holidays and meals.
………………………………….I leave
..the distraction of news to those
..who need it.
……………………I wait as memories,
..however dear, just sour
..into vague nostalgia.
…………………………………..As for
..religion?
………………..My best friend says
..what started as a game between
..Greek gods and mortals fractured
..into superstition that’s become
..a business.
…………………..Where does it end?
Is living like a stock-still road
..that keeps on coming and going
..from nowhere to nowhere?
After I lost the one
..I longed to live long with,
..long-life meant nothing more
..than living on.
………………………..Her smiles
..were similes for feelings
..everyone could share.
…………………………………..Her midnight
..kisses were truer than thoughts.
I think of coins she kept
..to give away except
..for a rare leftover dime
..she let me find so I
..could buy this poem for her.

The Essential Richard Wilbur

Who else but you could make
..a poem pirouette in place
..to its own music?
…………………………..Such art
..can never simply happen
..without the sense of something
..else invoked—some mystery,
..some secret.
………………….. Call it a miracle
..that guides the hand and heart
..when pen and paper meet.
Call it what mutes analysis
..or calculation.
………………………It answers
..to nothing but itself.
…………………………….To be
..accepted and known, it needs
..no more than to be felt
..as love is felt and unforgotten.