To the God of Small Things
Some say you are a lesser god, dominion only over salt shakers and paper clips. Not for you thunderbolts, a marble seat on Olympus, Nor the mythy mind of Sunday Morning. But it is to you I’m grateful That my keys are still in my right-hand pocket this morning, that the glue on this envelope sticks After I lick it. The god of my knurled brass bushings That are so reliable - no burning bush here, but brassy sure under my fingertips. When “bad things happen to good people” things are so manageable with you – The cheese I spilled on the floor that our dogs jumped on before I could get a paper towel – Well I’m not the Biblical Job sitting in my ash pit over it. OK, fine, I swore, I denied you thrice, sure, but it’s all OK. The dogs are happy, even if A little gassy. The floor is swept clean again now, I have a fresh cup of coffee and a bagel.
The fox says "you are not beautiful." The gazelle says "you are a shrimp." The ocean does not suffer fools. Shrimp swings in nets across the docks. I touch your cheek, move a lock of hair. My fingers are twisted shrimp, boiled, pink. Night leaps – darkness flys, turns, is gone. Beneath stars I shrimp, I crab, I snail.
The Banyan Drum
I couldn’t winnow it down to just one title for each word, so here are two each:
The Banyan Drum Dirt Squat - Life Under a Banyan Turnips at War Turnip Country: Dirt, Fiber, and the Lord The Jinx and the Fortune Cookie Jinxy Scatter/Gather: the New You Scatterama Flygrams Stationer to the Pope
Like you, I watched Notre Dame cathedral burn – a thousand years of prayer in the rafters feeding fires hotter than devotion, a millennia’s fervor of hands and fingers pressed together like a flame. “Our Mother” indeed. Though not mine. Nations did not watch, no helicopters overhead filmed what burned in her, how her brilliance consumed and engulfed the prayers of my family, all the wreckage once that light was out. What part of the flame, what color, what heat is insanity? The blue? The white? What raging fuel in the mind – timbers and rafters of the past? Gargoyles like whispering gas jets? They said when she was a girl on the ranch she built a shrine in a corner of the chicken yard and prayed to Jesus every day, on her knees in the dirt, before her brother honked the horn of the school bus he drove at 14. And we mourn. And for a moment together we all pray for something holy to rise back from the ashes. If not our souls, that the stones holding up our walls might be saved.
Trees like bronchioles Earth wears its lungs on its sleeve – Sun, breeze, shifting leaves
These men grease, torch, drill, and jigsaw the ferry engines back to life so that the world might again run on time. Diamonds in rough boots and grubby life jackets, they preserve for us the jeweled movement of appearances. I mumble greetings each morning in the early darkness – 5, 5:30 as they drift from their cars to the docks and they mumble back as if we both know they are not to be seen or their world acknowledged. An arc weld for sunrise. Below decks, hungry motors growl.
Deep in the earth – your finger a carrot – you want to claw back from the rooting, from your soul plugging dikes in this world with only your body to give – hands, arms, chest to no avail in the endless sea of too many cars on River Road early in the morning, the trees up the hill dumpy and dead brown, your neighbor Noah's twin pugs flooding the sidewalk, only rainbow stickers in a window high above – and this: the terrible sound of worms at work in the dirt, gravity's grim smile as it wins at boules against the sun and the moon and puts its arm around you in victory. Will your bones rise up a stick man, a scarecrow, a warning to scavengers? Or will they tunnel ever down, ribs sharpened and honed against stone dueling with tree roots, your toes playing footsie with weeds.
Foxtrot Delta Tango
A rabbit will teach you with its teeth – your finger a carrot – the long hole difference between hedge-hidden doors and lucky feet hanging ten In the pocket, between buck-wild buckshot cleansing the palate, and the hunter's game bag empty today – between labyrinth and maze, between Labradors and maize, between dog stars and hunted in the corn or the cosmos because you leapt so hard you shot to the sky and didn't turn around until Sirius was upon you with diamond fangs, Canis Major and Canis Minor baying at your heels, until you go to ground until you visit the Minotaur again and answer his question: Is the road straight, or does it break? Will you return the way you came? Or all is lost? Keep your kits close, and your own skin closer. It takes two to tangle deep in the earth.
What Does the Fox Say?
Crickets chirp secrets –
Fox shadows old pond at night
Nothing to sneeze at
Can’t blow schnoz in a twenty –
Hard cash, harder nose