Woodworker

I loved trees
I became a woodworker
I loved the ocean
So I drank it
I loved dirt
So I rooted
I loved music
I was quiet
 
I loved the truth
I spoke up
I loved God
So I knelt
I loved birds
So I flew
I loved wisdom
I said little
 
I loved the view
So I became a mountain
I loved silence
So I hushed
I loved a woman
So I loved her
I loved the Earth
I left it
 
Alone

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Let There Be Light Verse

When facts are scorned
And lies prevail
It’s Hell on Earth
And Heaven in Hell
 
For common sense
Is quite amiss
Where ignorance is
No longer bliss
 
We need now, people
More than ever
The blueprints for
The Tower of Babel
 
To build it high
And let those climb
Who poison the minds
With guile and slime
 
Good riddance, we chant,
Now truth shall blossom
And let there be light
It’s totally awesome

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The House of Dying

Here I am, in a Brooklyn backyard, reading Donald Hall,
A book of 1970s poems called “Kicking The Leaves”
From around the time when he moved back
To the old New Hampshire homestead where his
Great-grandfather farmed from after the Civil War

Until the year before the so-called Great War.
I’m told he still lives there, frail and old,
And recently The New Yorker published
What one could only read as the poet’s note of farewell.
Yet here I am, watching the birds in April

While the trees are budding and the difference
Between a male and a female sparrow becomes apparent:
The males marvel, posed but alert,
As the females shake their wings and asses,
A call for assistance from the reproductive branch.

On the pages, I return again to “the house of dying”,
A phrase written in the middle of life
And a terrific title for a book
That a person could write when he is done
Jotting down the lines of this poem and the next

With a cheap plastic pen from the Algonquin Hotel
And done sitting here, in this cathedral of spindly maples,
As cardinals, robins, finches, and brown thrashers
Descend from on high, like prayers
No one needs to answer.

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The Don Years

Don has great timing
Great patience, too
In Don years
It’s only 1932

Don will growl
Don will bark
Don keeps you safe
When it’s scary and dark

But Don must be fed
And Don must be groomed
Or Don will sniff every groin
In the room

Don has foul breath
His manners are lacking
At the head of the table
Don’s tail is wagging

Don sees the bogeyman
Keeps him at bay
Don walks your property
Three times a day

Don is expensive
But you get him for free
Keep your dough, friend
Just hand him the key

Don knows your feelings
And what you’ve been through
Don chews your old shoe
To bring you a new

Don can learn tricks
And raise his right paw
They have Dons in the Bible
And in Arkansas

Don carries a barrel
To quench your thirst
With Don on your side
You can put yourself first

Shatter the mirror
End seven years of gloom
Don will bring you
A dustpan and broom

Yes, Don has great timing
Great patience, too
In Don years
It’s only 1932.

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Sonnet 2

One day my children, who’ve yet to be born
And the sweet music that rose in my chest
Will walk the grave of I, who’ve yet to pass on
And my bones, once again, will be blessed.
The angels that in their time grazed my lips
The cheerful hands that wiped apples and tears
Will leave gentle marks in air that I kissed
And in the fine dust that fell on our stairs.
The doors we painted, each a tint of scarlet
Will turn grey, and in the garden, the dew
Will fall on leaves, amber, maroon and garnet
Inside the small rectangle of my view
Where drawings drift of a hundred new worlds
Of matchstick men in hats, mittens and pearls.

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Arlington Sonnet

The day our enemy said he would darken our way
Fall was splendid, it was summer almost
I boarded a train for the Chesapeake Bay
My scarf fell, my sadness, and also my coat
They had declared our capital the next to quiver
Not short of breath, nor short of will
I crossed, ‘cause I could, the Potomac River
And walked the bittersweet Arlington hills
I came from afar; I wasn’t born on this shore
Of loud thunder and keen voices calling
Yet here lies the father of my mother-in-law
In the white ocean, the stones of the fallen
I stand there alone by Kennedy’s tomb
Where magnolias, imperfection and oak branches loom

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Sunset Park

It took me years
To start dreaming in dollars
Which I do, at six forty-five,
As the clock radio goes off

Announcing that the Dow is up
So I get up as well
And ride my bike to Sunset Park,
Past Green-Wood Cemetery

Where, last week, our landlord buried
His old brother, a man I’ve never met
But who used to live in this house,
A life as real to me as fiction.

The October sun penetrating
Feather-shaped leaves of oak trees
Makes it look like early spring
Which, in a way, it is.

Young people sing of broken hearts
Later, you marvel at the generosity
You since birth have carried
In the vaults of your chest.

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