I live in a garden of weather-ground statues.
No names left on any of
their rotted pedestals.
Someone not in the scene
tells me these are
my ancestors. My Founding Fathers.
I am not so sure. So many of them —
the list of their names
would be longer
than law firm-long. Then again, maybe
it is true. After all, they have given me
a law firm’s legacy:
a little blood money in my pockets,
linked to a demand that in every situation
I either win or settle.
Snip snip and a snippet of fabric
tumbles and twirls to the middle
of the floor under the worktable
where it’s going to stay too far
from easy reach, safe from discard
or scrapping for the moment.
We are having a superhero cape made;
no time for the mess we leave behind.
Cape to wear when being heroic. Cape
to fling about dramatically upon victory
or to pull over our face as we slump in
temporary defeat. All the beautiful cloth
in such large dimension. All the dynamic
movement inherent in the drape and shape.
All you need to be a superhero is how you feel
when you’ve got the right cape. The waste
left behind is of no matter. The apparent blood
on the shears: is the blood coming from the hands
of tailors in the crowded shop or (more
fantastically, more illogical but still possible)
flowing in fact from the fabric itself; is it
possible? Do you in fact start with actual skin
to make a superhero cape work
and flow as it should?
It’s not our concern;
someone else makes the cape. We just twirl it,
make a great show of twirling it
as we put a supervillain temporarily away
because to vanquish them utterly we’d likely have
to take off the cape and get down on the floor.
Someone else gets down on the floor
to clean up the blood and the scraps;
then snip snip, start on a new one,
or perhaps on a shroud.
They have their calling. We have ours.
We live for the show. They are lucky to live.
A drop in the bucket: an old cliche.
Every small act honored or dismissed
as a drop in the bucket.
Filling the bucket is expected and demanded.
The drops are incremental, are loved
or hated depending on how quickly or fervently
we wish for the bucket to become full,
and how deeply we want what is going
into the bucket.
A drop in the bucket repeated steadily —
a gun’s hammer-click ringing in metal, a pebble
bouncing against the hard plastic sides
as it falls to the bottom — maddening
to the heart or soothing to the ear. The sound
of the landing changing to splash from smack
or from thud to clink.
No one wants to think about
the ones drowning slowly
in the bucket.
The bucket itself
isn’t changing as it fills;
no one thinks of that except
the ones waiting
inside for it to be spilled.
Trying to tip it before
it’s too late.
Screaming for someone
to come kick it over.
Until you are by law under suspicion
for your face, do not speak too proudly
of the need to obey any other law.
Until you are by law under threat
of becoming slave or slain for walking
your path your way, do not claim
that if you are doing nothing wrong,
you have nothing to worry about. This
is not a tale of unlawful doing, but one of
unlawful being; unless you have lived
where you are always at war, or where war
always simmers just under boiling, do not speak
so confidently of the need for restraint,
do not sternly scold broken windows
in a landscape where everyone’s a casualty
by definition. If you live where that
is not the case, you likely live
in a fortress made of bones cemented with blood
and unless you can see your own bones and blood
in those walls, don’t scorn those who are sick
of seeing their entire past, present, and future there,
and who then attempt to tear it all down.