Old World Habits Die Hard

By the big window
an older couple shares to-
day’s New York Times. Light

splashes on pages
neatly folded. There are smiles,
frowns, nods, sighs. What a

world! They seem happy.
A kind of peace prevails like
an ancient Greek god.

A Day’s Work

I breathe in the o-
dor of new-mown grass steaming
in the morning sun.

I still taste it at
midnight. Lu Chi: we poets,
we cut, cut, and cut,

never satisfied.
There’s terror in the dust — life’s
nothing but strike-throughs.

At the Scene

It’s a breezy dark
day but off and on the scene
is lit up without

warning. The leaves that
shook now shake and shine, the clouds
above them blinding.

Then it’s over. No
one notices. The traffic
itself blazed, metal

and plastic flashing
mercury-like, but drivers,
thank God, kept driving.

The Power of Let

As a newcomer
in old age to these green parts
it’s with disbelief

I confess: power
in the last dimension is
the power of let.

Not quite forgiveness,
what I sense in the rain-washed
Pacific breezes

is old Rabelais’
“do what you will”; but the will
has relaxed into

gratitude. One more
rain-polished day, the “let be”
of a kinder god.

An Ordinary Day in Portland

Unseasonably
cold and wet. Today should be
ordinary, and

the ordinary
would include that bus. Two
good Samaritans

dead after trying
to calm a man shouting hate
at two girls who looked

different. He had
a knife. An American
story. Our city

known for its buses
and devotion to the un-
common common good.

Commute

Something excessive
attends me as I transfer,
one train to the next,

the commute shorter
and shorter. An awareness
that returning home

to the trees and lawns
of New Jersey involves states
of mind towards mind-

fulness, which is not
a state of mind but a gift,
as home is a gift.

Memorial

In the dappled shade
of roadside maples the war
dead we pause to praise

this Memorial
Day call in equivocal
voices, some one’s own.

Screaming crows float from
tree to tree, full of themselves.
My father returned,

begat me, made me
doubtful. In his silences
his South Pacific.