The Muskrat

muskrat

“Here!” my older son had said,

And thumped the plastic bag on the bed.

Inside I saw the brown-red thing.

Small – rabbit sized.

Carefully I washed away the blood,

Dropped sugar milk into his mouth.

He lived.

He lived with me one summer through,

A muskrat, slapping with webbed feet

Along the hallway floor.

Nosing back behind my books

Playing, like a kid, at secret passageways.

In the yard, he paddled in a water basin,

Gnawed bananas, raw fish and clams.

He returned my gentleness in equal measure.

Autumn, influenza took him off.

Why do these extra human crossings strike so deep?

It is, perhaps, that mute eye

Behind the closing door

That would, like me,

Prefer a moment more.

 

 

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Days

 

pushpin

The consequence of Wednesdays

Parented by Tuesdays

Enchained in turn by Thursdays

That parse our times and lives

Assigns the rigid order

To package star events

That nestle in our minds

And join to make us whole.

 

Birthdays and deathdays

Stand resolutely planted

In foundations of our soul,

The anchors of the scaffold of our thought.

From these string ropes of continuity,

Hang bright colors out of gay events

Suspend black rags of tragedy

So that we run, along these lines,

The finger of our memory

To say,”Thus it was, and how.” And wonder why.

 

Over morning coffee, our ruminations push

And shake the rigid past, the bottom line

That says who we were and are and why it came that way

Because one scalpel minute, one fractured second

Of one assassin day.

 

Plate

 

Birthday cake

This round plate

Sits on my kitchen shelf

Staring with its broad red rim

And bright central floral eye.

I have kept a bed in five nations,

Seen the sun arise at odd times.

I must probe with blind fingers

Into memory to feel origins.

Birthdays at age two and six and eight

Saw my mother pedestal my cakes

On this very plate.

It gives me history.

One glance, one touch

Confers personal mythology

On crockery.

 

 

In Gratitude

Ants

 

When I am made young again

To endow the world with glow

Of golden morning sun

So a normal day will go

With all the joy of baskets of ripe oranges,

When sound will crash through moments

Like clean fresh water splashing

Over mountain rocks that clack

And tumble into chasms to a cataract,

Then shall I know time has been reborn,

Mind will yawn and shake itself awake.

Then will sharp eyes snare the small industry of ants

Who bear breadcrumbs in triumph

To succor busy fellows in necessary labor.

Each small bird will be marked in eagerness

And hopeful gaze for offering as I walk by.

The multitudes of leaves will strike silent lightnings

Of jagged blue sky as loving winds ruffle their green.

And I will know the goodness and the wealth

Of this, my Earth, who made me.

 

 

Old Thoughts

Third Ave El

 

Old age has thrown its cloak on me

Blurring eyesight,

Slowing down my walk,

Blocking off old friends

Who have problems of their own…

Or more likely,

Simply died.

Who knows?

Contacts are cut off.

I survive,

Still alive, holding cups of hot tea

I wander in the maze of my memory

Through times and places

Now, wholly theoretical.

Tilley and his steeplechase,

His teeth like tombstones

Grin from a subway poster

At fourteenth, Union Square

To tempt me down to Coney Island.

Even at that time Luna Park

Was just a dream.

The snakey curves pull a moan

From the 3rd avenue El

As it twists over the housetops

On 23rd on its way to the Aquarium

At the Battery.

That old fort, inhabited by sharks

And seals and open pools

Of horseshoe crabs

Which sit like warted blisters

Lost in antediluvian contemplation.

That New York is now long gone,

With its Cascade laundry wagons,

Horsedrawn or electric.

These days the internet, full of the buzz

Of stranger’s offerings of sex and wealth

Spamming through electronic mail

Slithers through the tangled jungles

Of the kitchen middens

Of the chaos of the mind.

 

The Speed Of Light

seashells

 

Come with me to a star

Eighty light years away

And look back

With super eyes

At the small blue point

We call the Earth.

Squint to see the peninsula

We call Florida.

The morning sun

Has struck the sea

With lines of fire.

There on the beach

Where quiet waves

Throw long smooth curves

On the flats of sand

My mother and my father

Perch on folding stools

Before stick easels

Wetting Whatman paper

With streaks of ultramarine

And prussian blue.

Strands of seaweed

In thick tangled piles

Meander on for miles

Along the empty beach

Concealing treasures.

Curly spiral wormshells,

Pink scallops, purple mussels

Thumbnail sized,

Strange hooked eggs of sharks,

Round sea beans liked cusped doorknobs.

My brother, ten years old,

And I, twelve,

Shuffle slowly through the piles

Garnering delights.

Florida like that

Is long gone.

But the image

Of my father, my mother

My brother and I

And the glory that was Florida

Is sailing out

Into the universe

At the speed of light.

 

 

 

Creation Of The Universe

Eye

 

Sits in my skull

A curled gray beast

Molded to its cup of bone,

Alone.

 

The outside world

It cannot know.

Not light, air, bulk nor hues.

Just clues.

 

The nexus of

A finespun net

Which terminates its axon fist

In mist.

 

Its billion lines

Transmit responses

Sifting pulses; all compiled

And filed.

 

Confusion, first ubiquitous.

Unvectored bits, zero, one

‘Til the sources are assigned,

Aligned.

 

Woven nerves

Festooned with figures;

Puzzled with the patterns, matching,

Hatching.

 

Lacing through

From point to point.

Architecting, congruencing,

Sensing.

 

Congealing concepts.

Counting, seeking.

Logic engine freely dreaming,

Scheming.

 

Fitting this,

Forming that,

Smoothing, joining, multiplying.

Trying.

 

Granting trope

Its own dynamic.

Now it all agglomerates

And mates.

 

Sloughing off

All errata,

Chaos clears.

Universe

Appears.