Study the way the light scatters
As it scorches the trees;
The different times of day;
The effect of the seasons on a single branch;
Different depths of green
In a solitary blade of grass;
A dead bird that died flying into a plate of glass
(Thinking foolishly that beyond it,
There was more sky);
Study words, and study how to speak them;
Study what they mean;
Study what they could mean
If another word were chasing it.

In the lonely times of night,
Have their blankets;
Have their pens.


I watched the dead bury their dead
In the graveyard of the fallen city.
In the churchyard, desecrated, stood a tree,
Once high and lofty (just like me)
But now bent over in solemn prayer
Without a pitiful cry to escape its lips.
I watched as the city of tall buildings,
Tall as trees, reaching to God,
Crumbled beneath the weight of heaven;
And casket after casket, full,
Tottered past. I watched,
And the dead buried their dead.

I stood on a narrow road, alone.
The same cold wind that blew
Through the broken windows of the crumpled city,
Laid low like a widow weeping--
The same wind blew across my face
And covered me with the ashes of the beloved city:
The people, the buildings, the trees,
The generations (just like me)
All lined up inside caskets.
And I, on my narrow road, alone,
Watched atop a hill as the dead buried their dead.


Romans 8:28

"All things are for your good
And for your better you."
Our pocket watches, like time bombs,
Tick wildly against our chests,
Mimicking the rhythm of our
Caffeine-induced palpitations.
We sit across from one another:
You smoke a cigarette,
And I feel modern with my cigarette-smoking friend
With a side of coffee.
Billboards glare down at us with urgent intent
To make us into a "better you."
You praise the barista.
I praise the sun,
And I praise the cigarette for its thorougly modern look.

If I went looking
For a better you,
I wonder what I'd find.
A few years down the road,
With gray on your hair and under your eyes,
You will say, "Old friend,
Remember the time, and remember the time..."
And I will say, "It changed me, too."
And we will go happy along our ways,
Hand-in-hand with coffee cups.

But now, we wait
For the outside one
To bring it all together for us.
We sit in the sun
(You flirt with the barista, and I smile
As you gently tap your cigarette into the brimming ashtray),
Enjoy our coffee, decaf in a few short years,
And wait for the outside one
To bring it all together.



The priest entered to dispell the scent of sin.
It was high noon.
"These days are numbered," said he.
"Do you think you are ready?" said he.
"Do what you must," said we.

The stage, set, looked gloomy.
Windswept. Cold. Dead.
The memory of a thousand violet orphans
Flooded his mind.
He took out the props. He lay them aside.
He began to recite:

Praise God.
Father God.
(As though He forgot his cue, he repeats).
God defends. Violet orphans flee.
All is not lost. All is again good.
Praise God.

The curtain falls.
The people were not people any longer.
The actors were not acting.
The children all were weeping.
The priest, head bowed in desperate surrender,
Took a swig of whiskey
And exited, stage right.

"These days are numbered," said he.
"Do what you must," said we orphans,
We dead folk, the exorcised.