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The wake

  • 25 March 2019


Selected poems





To be on,

for it to be one of your better days,

for it to culminate

in knowing, beyond a doubt,

that placing your hands in the air

just at the right moment,

so that you can bring them together

and softly palm

the trapped sparrow flying around

the bookstore café

is to experience a moment

of the remarkable, then to step

outside to open your hands

to release the bird

and to watch it fly up

over the languishing blossoms

of the hanging cherry tree,

is to also release that

wilderness within yourself

back into the open air.



Seeing whatever it was

that had darted in front of your eyes

out of the barnyard at dusk

reminds you of the bat

in the auditorium at the book signing

that flew up above the heads

of the onlookers during a break,

then dodged coffee urns

and fruit Danish while

knocking over stacks of paper coffee cups

before you could pull off a tablecloth

from a free table,

and corner the bat, urging it through

a series of hallway that lead to a storeroom,

where you threw the red cloth into

the air, and the bat flew into it,

as it landed onto the checkered

linoleum floor. Kneeling down

to bunch the cloth loosely about

the bat, you could feel the nervous

twitching of its wings

beneath the fiber of the cotton

weave, and walked it outside,

where you tossed the tablecloth up

to release the bat

in the falling rain, upon which

it chose to attach itself

to the crenellated concrete

of the outside wall of the building,

blinking its eyes in the freedom

of a new day, adjusting

its sight to everything, all of which

appeared to be nothing less than remarkable.




The wake

A child approaches the casket,

reaches within to try to lift

my folded hands, to make sure,

as she tells her mother later,

that I am not just sleeping.


Only a few attend the wake,

since, as a former supervisor,

who rather crudely expressed in

an annual employee review,

that I lived alone, didn't have


a family, and never owned,

or watched, a television.

Although there were those

I considered friends whom

I never met, but kept up with


by email, not many in the sparse

crowd sitting in the folding

chairs would even know what

local literati meant, since not

unlike Walt Whitman,


I tended friendships with those

whom I made felicitous contact

with at the grocery store,

the gas station, the post office;

and in keeping with this,


ah, there is my friend Mohammad,

the coffee shop owner, whom

anyone would call quite a splendid

man, whom I spoke with

nearly daily on my walk at


the mall, laying a rose beside me,

his double shot of kindness

still echoing into the next world,

Good morning, good morning,

as my spirit hovers nearby.





What greets you in the greenhouse

is what is