Hideous Statuettes

The Robin’s call learned as a child:

            Cheer-up, Cheer-up, Cheer-up

Sounds so right; so sweet heralding the mud and shoots of spring
Today sounds nervous and confused as it falls bleakly over the frozen river.
They flit and perch in the trees jabbering in concerned confusion as the ice works inexorably from both banks-soon to overtake the small sliver of green in the middle.

           Cheer-up, Cheer-up, Cheer-up

Bright red breasts ornament the bare branches
Weeks after the decorations have been put away
None will brave the snow on the ground.
Hopefully they are not waiting-they can’t wait it out can they?
It’s 14 degrees up from 11 heading to five
Hopefully they are moving on-but to where and from where?

         Cheer-up, Cheer-up, Cheer-up

Perhaps tomorrow they’ll all be dead
Ragged and black like spent shell casings
Or singed shelter halves
Frozen and tossed in the snow.

        Cheer-up, Cheer-up, Cheer-up

Yesterday morning in the gray dawn
A dove tried to fly from a line in the yard.
As it rose a Cooper’s Hawk-from nowhere
Blasted it in a puff of dark feathers.

Later the snow fell,
Covering the scattered feathers and tiny crimson splat that fell to earth

Solstice Ghazal

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He lumbers across the dark parking lot
Dragging his feet like bad dreams.

The golden light of his youth feathered
Through the leaves of the trees shading the stream.

Those he came with; who had brought him,
Had faded away; long-gone forgotten dreams.

Caterpillars and ants fell to feed the trout,
Or minnows which, in turn, feed the lunkers downstream.

When he fought, as he could feel he would soon,
His scarred knuckles pulverized the spots where once hung his dreams.

There was a chessboard in the attic where an empty spool stood for a bishop
And a plastic army man was the king-thrusting with bayonets and screams.

Blue Bird in the Barn

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He was careful on the path down to the barn. The first snowfall-not yet finished-had made it slick and he had somehow forgotten his cane back on the porch.

Inside, the cows milled about desultorily eating the hay he had pulled down from the loft earlier. He loosened his collar a bit to suck in some of the damp warmth from their breath when he heard the unmistakable song of a blue bird. He scanned the rafters and immediately picked him out from the stray, gray sparrows and wrens that flitted about the place.

“What you do, little guy?” he asked aloud. “Miss the last train south?”

Up at the house he left his boots inside the door and peeled off his old coat. The glow of the television leaked out of the living room in back. There his wife sat in the chair that the medical company had sent over-the one that would help her get up and down.

“Saw a bluebird in the barn”, he told her speaking loudly.

“Oh?” she answered. “He shouldn’t be here now, should he?”

“Guess the weather had him confused. Now he’s stuck I guess.”

“Bluebird in the barn”, she said almost to herself in a sing-song childish way. Then, “I wisht I could see him.”

He glanced at the mute aluminum frame of her walker. “You’ll see him and plenty more in the spring. We’ll have them all over the place…”

She said nothing more, just looked out the window where the snow still fell and it was night-dark at suppertime.

The next day dawned bright and cold. He made his way unsteadily down the hill relying overmuch, he thought, on the cane he clutched firmly. He was kicking away snow from the sweep of the barn door when he saw the small splash of blue over by the trough. He walked over and scooped up the dead bird and a little puff of snow besides. It wasn’t cat-mauled or damaged at all. Just dead.

He didn’t realize he was crying until a heavy tear spattered on the tiny blue head.

“Fuck.” he whispered, chilled at using a word that hadn’t passed his lips since Korea.

 

 

Working at the Bottom

Paint shed

The children played

On the swings.

His granddaughter sat

In the sandbox.

He stared down the bank

At the river

And watched the carp

Work at the bottom;

Mud trails followed

After them.

Twenty years ago

He stood by the paint shed;

Right about where

the monkey bars are now

in his work boots

and hard hat.

On a coffee break he watched

The carp work at the bottom;

Mud trails followed

After them.

 

This is Lou’s poem found scrawled and pegged to a cork board when cleaning out our parent’s house.

Near Waterford, Pa.

It was still summer-late August-

But during the night, fall had crept in

For a preview.

Breath hung in the dawn air a moment

Before floating off

And mist settled on everything,

Dripping from mailboxes and signs

A few degrees from glazing.

An old farmer had risen early

Excited by the chill.

Thinking October thoughts of

Hunting and pumpkins

He drove his battered mostly red pickup

Toward town.

Rounding a bend his left rear tire came loose

Dropping the hub in a banging, grinding, sparking,

Skid into the asphalt.

The tire kept going

Across two yards, through a birdbath

And flowerpatch, splitting a fat rhododendron

Finally coming to rest with a thud

against the home of a chain stretching, growling, teeth baring

German Shepard named Leo.

The old farmer leaned against a fender

Of his listing, clicking truck

And lit a cigarette under the red sky.

It was going to be a good day.

Ruins

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There is a path through the ruins where one can amble for quiet hours

taking care not to trip over what once was overhead.

Or fall into the leavings below.

Where once were sirens, whistles, smoke, roars and crashing,

Are now trees, brush, and birds-the twittering sentinels

Of what has passed.

The path probably started as a path-a deer trail through the woods.

Then it became a road that first wagons and carts

then cars and trucks hustled commerce along.

None of those could pick a trail through now.

It’s reverted to a deer trail again, fit only for careful feet, bicycles or, I suppose a horse and rider.

But a horse, though trained, is not much different than the rodents, deer and coyotes

that now use this thoroughfare.

Ruined for us by us.

Thus saved.

Not Her

She froze near the bottom of the stairs

Startled by the form

In the window beside the front door.

Some other worldly wraith-white and shaved-stared,

Watching.

Nothing to break the pale but the dark nipples against her milky skin.

The tiny breasts lifted and fell with her breathing.

Below a dark mane, button eyes sewn onto a doll’s face

Searched for something that wasn’t there.

Her lean legs wavy, her flat stomach nothing but a creamy smudge,

Her face, nondescript from here.

She looked away from the reflection.

It wasn’t her at all.