Daily Archives: June 4, 2018

Fluent In Disturbance

No need to speak softly.
I’m fluent in disturbance.
I witness your rough prayer.
I shall raise you up.

No need to offer yourself
alone. No need to backpedal
or hesitate. I’m opening
my war cage. Releasing

my deepest bombs long held within.
Too old to hang on to them
for a better moment. This is 
that time. There is no time but this.

Those conversant in all the languages
of strife and how to struggle must listen
to each other now, and speak as they must;
no silence from any corner.

Make the silencers afraid.
Drown them out and hold them down,
face down, mouths full of ash.
They are fearsome, I know.

But I will hold you up and away.
I will cry them down into their filth. 
I will join hands

with others in war song. 

We will be no longer soft.
No longer silent.
No more of what
they count on us to be.


Stanley Kunitz, one time
Poet Laureate of the United States,

born and bred in Worcester, MA,
once said this city provoked him to poetry.

I met him only once
and then only for a moment,

would never say I think
we might have gotten along, yet

I will lay odds that on this point
we would have agreed

and from there something like respect and
affable conversation 

might have developed, as I am
easily irked to poetry in the Parkway diner here

over strong coffee, provoked
into meter by watching the rhythm

of a short-order cook working hash
and eggs into perfect harmony, lured to verse

on Harding Street, that paved over secret canal;
into forms by the voices of those

who live here and work here
whether they want the town to be

itself or some other town, whether they
love its worn, durable face

or want to cover it by spending
Boston level money on a Boston mask.

Not too far from my house is the home
where Stanley Kunitz grew up, in a city

called Worcester that had
an honest if rough face. I know that face

well. It’s my face, it’s the face
of my next door neighbor from Ghana,

the face of Angel on the third floor
whose mother is staying with him till they rebuild

her storm wrecked home in Puerto Rico,
the face of the old Polish man

across the street who talks to no one, the faces
of all the street people and all the rich ones too.

Worcester’s face is not a face you’d forget,
or want to forget.  Even if it’s covered

one day by a fraud,
a shroud of silk and gold,

it will not die. It will do what Worcester does.
It will say what it means

even if only with its eyes —
pleading, quoting Stanley:

touch me,
remind me who I am.

Tree Mystery

There are fresh footprints in the pasture
disappearing under this new burst of snow.
Two people walked out there
to stand by two trees, apparently not long ago.
They may have stood there, may have
walked around the trunks — two
looking at two as if drawn together by
the power of pairs — and then they apparently
walked back here to the fence and back out
to the road where they parked, probably
where my car is parked now. That’s all
I can say from looking at this.

Ten minutes more and the prints will be buried
and no one will know
any of this happened. We already don’t know
why it happened.
I could walk out there myself and ask
those two dark sentinels
what happened but I do not think
they would tell,
and then I would walk back puzzled
and go on my way
and another set of prints would disappear
in that pasture where the trees
stand as they have for years,
not telling anyone what they know.

Broken, Healing

Daylight arriving:
too much of a thing,

neither bad nor good,
that inserts its presence

without asking.
Dusk and dark:

blankets only, 
fixes for nothing.

Day or night
the air smells like fear, like

blue lights
in my rear view.

I am broken,
I’ve been told.

I’ve been told
I’m in the process

of healing. Terrifying words,
broken, healing; broken

for how I’ve been
and how I am seen;

healing for its reminder that
I have not only not

been repaired fully,
but that I may never be.

What I do daily, nightly,
is pretend the healing is working.

I sit in the scent of fear
and bathe myself.

I call it a treatment.
I treat myself to 

immersion in what you call
healing, which for me is

a rough massage
of broken parts

that is alleged to make me
better, but really 

just moves fractures
into hiding under my skin.

The hurt never changes
and I can’t escape the smell.

I am more broken than
healing. This is my life.

I live it and have lived it
but I will not pretend

to have liked 
much of it.