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Monday, September 18, 2017

A Grace

Our daily world
with its shopworn customs
masks the miraculous:
this coffee
which perks me
out of sluggishness,
this air
that fills
and flees my lungs,
this sun
now ambering the leaves
of September.

Kind words
of a friend.
Help of clinician
and counselor.
Benediction
of a holy one.

Traffic that grumbles
down my street.
Neighbours that smile.
Solitude
that shines
benign and peaceful.

In an hour or two,
I'll get ready
to face the world
and its happy
obligations,
knowing that some angel
lurks in the subway,
or on the bus,
or on Hanover Street,
hiding behind
a fireplug,
a sparrow-dotted fence,
a stranger's
welcoming face.

Liturgy on the Verge of Autumn

September in my late 40s.
Sunset. I'm heading over
to the 7 Star Grocery to pick up

a half-gallon of lowfat milk
and a loaf of whole-wheat bread.
The darkening air (damp, cool)

smells like mosquitoes. I walk
past St Agnes Church, asleep
until tomorrow, and remember

that I haven't seen Roxie today,
so I pop into The Book Rack
for my soul's health's sake.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Chapter One

You were eighteen and I was twenty-two:
It must have been the summer of '91.
Our hearts were young, the world still fresh and new.

We were so smart; we didn't have a clue;
We drank cheap beer and danced, had lots of fun--
You were eighteen and I was twenty-two.

Your cat had kittens; skies were always blue;
I grew a beard, read Herrick and John Donne.
We laughed as romance blossomed fresh and new.

And everywhere from Braintree to BU,
Butterflies frolicked madly in the sun:
You were eighteen and I was twenty-two.

We've got gray hair now. How the decades flew!
I'm diabetic, walk more than I run,
But can recall when our romance was new.

We're still best friends, stooped me and squinting you:
We know that each new day is Chapter One!
We're no longer eighteen and twenty-two:
Our lives still bring us blessings, fresh and new.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Books

Harvard undergrads
used to read books
on the Red Line train.

How many eyes nowadays
scan print and paper?
Virtually none.

*

Luddite,
I’ll still carry
three or four paperbacks
in my tote bag,
the poor man’s Kindle.

*

When I was sixteen,
I hid a copy
of The Colossus
in my jacket pocket
at Steve & Cory’s wedding.

Thirty years have passed
since I bought my first volumes of verse:
Eliot’s Four Quartets,
Rimbaud’s Illuminations,
Heaney’s Field Work.

Eliot because it was cheap,
Rimbaud because it was French,
Heaney because Mr Waldron
said he was good.

The printed page
is bread to me,
life and light,
shelter and sustenance.

*

Sure, I’m as guilty
as the next guy
of checking the iPhone
during a dull commute.

But there are times
at home alone
I’ll pick up a book,
an old favorite,
weathered, seasoned,
and pace from room to room
reading aloud
to the four walls,
to any muse or angel
that might be haunting me.

*

Wystan, Estlin, Theodore, Marianne,
you wouldn’t be the same
as lucent type on a small screen.

You’re most at home
in dead-tree editions!

I lift your pages
and kiss the verses
as the priest
kisses the Gospel.

Monday, August 28, 2017

She's So High

Cloud-foe, she havocs
ferns and fritillaries
from August to autumn.

Lily of the labyrinth,
mischief-maker,
she anthems dusk,
plucks the harp of dawn.

Silent dancer,
heaven-minded,
she pirouettes
down malls and halls,
insouciant and free.

Moon-coin,
spendless silver,
she heals all wounds
with her light.

Songbird, skylark,
she makes music
against the scowl of now.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Young Woman of Boston

Elegant as pi
to the hundredth decimal,
beautiful as a quadratic equation,
close as Cambodia, distant as winter,
precise and mathematical
as Audrey in Roman Holiday,
she walked, silent perfection,
into the funeral home,
and even the dead people noticed.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rascal's Litany

Dragonfly in the synagogue,
ladybug in the chapel,
mosquito in the ashram,
grasshopper in the Zen garden,
moth in the mosque,
pray for me, a poor sinner,
a wretched addle-pate.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Portrait

The rainbow badge
on the backpack
at the sandalled feet
of the Tufts student

sitting patient
in the stilled trolley
at Lechmere Station
at ten in the morning

this slight & slender figure
twentythree at most
her closecropped hair
and modest hornrims

and soft semi-smile
as she sits reading
the Boston Metro
& the trolley starts

A Grace

Our daily world with its shopworn customs masks the miraculous: this coffee which perks me out of sluggishness, this air that fills ...