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  Selected Poems

Underwater Galaxies

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from COOKED ORANGES

Written 2004/2005
(unpublished)

Moments After

True Faces

King Midas 20/20

 

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MOMENTS AFTER

A wild elephant sits down after its rampage
and dusts its brow with dirt

The dust settles after the building's collapsed to the
ground with everyone inside it
little flakes in universes of their own twirling and
tumbling through the air as if humming to themselves

After initial spews of disgorging flame the lava flow slides
cobra-like humming silently to itself down the hillside into the
valley below with only the crackle and pop of
burnt trees rooftops stalled automobiles
and whatever else is in its way

After the volcanic shout that cleaves the air
the room becomes silent more silent than our
honoring of the dead though not as silent as
the dead themselves

menace replacing chitchat tension replacing gossip
expectation as wide as space itself replacing
the blithe sense of immortality that usually
accompanies all we do

8/12

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TRUE FACES

The butcher conceals wings under his wraparound apron

The policeman is secretly psychic and can
solve all the cases

The jeweler plucks diamond out of his mouth
when no one's looking

The dancer levitates alone in front of the practice room
mirror while slowly pirouetting with long
arms upraised

These silent phenomena these invisible heroes of the Miraculous

The surgeon with actual laser eyes who waits a little
when the others blink to look deeply into the
opened patient to the source

The nurse with divinely guided ears who hears
the cry inside the cry and the moan inside the
silent sufferers and the voice of the comatose
reciting its detailed litany and singing its
circumscribed dreams

Nothing is as it seems

The old crossing guard with the big bosoms and thick
glasses who whispers rosy destinies in eight-year-olds'
ears often without them noticing until
twenty years later one morning at breakfast

The florist who lives in visionary anticipation
sending bouquets to bashful lovers or the
recently bereaved signing their cards with
perfect appropriate signatures

The railroad engineer who entertains angels in the
locomotive cabin on those long nights in blinding blizzards
who tell him when to accelerate around curves

The Chinese shoemaker whose ancestors bring him the
next perfectly cut piece of leather or silk to sew in the
middle of the night for the next morning's
urgent commissions

The abyss opens up in a split second and
releases its evil denizens into the air
The muttering grandmother in the print housedress
gives them a withering glance that
dissolves their wicked intentions forever

The old black gardener in dust overalls who
talks to birds and listens to their sagas and
weeps tears at their aerial travails

This list only indicates a texture often overlooked in God's
impeccable creation

The light inside the listener that sheds on crystal
caverns where the true tablets lie in heaps
each face a decipherable text that tells our most
secret desires and the cures of the deepest
maladies of our deliverance

those individual afflictions which are
each of our safe passages to Paradise once we've

taken each one by the reins and ridden it in

8/28

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KING MIDAS 20/20

King Midas touched one more thing
just to make sure it was happening

Then a pin that suddenly dazzled with starlight and
became gold

A wooden button with its puny threads now
glittering and solid and bound with golden fibers
to the cloth of his coat

Now he dared the coat itself and found himself
encased in soft armor
all its buttons gleaming and the pockets solid shut
and the arms heavy

King Midas watched a ladybug land nearby from the
open window having flown in from the garden and now
flittering its wings the way ladybugs do as if
shaking dust particles off them and neatly arranging them
back under their hard red case

Midas poised his finger above her for one introspective moment
or perhaps out of a twinge of human hesitation then
ping! A golden ladybug hatpin or
doll's ornament encased in golden stasis

Pleased the king looked out the window at the
world its trees and palatial gardens so well-ordered so
clearly and royally geometrical and rubbed his fingertip on the
windowsill that immediately gleamed and
then on the window glass that suddenly became
opaque shutting out that pleasant vista

then tables and chairs and vases and knickknacks
given him by all the world's dignitaries and
already priceless until a

uniform kind of stainless steel glow of golden light shone
everywhere each detail of each item down to the
threads on a screw or the points on the royal pens

until King Midas had no recourse but to
touch himself as well the only one

so far left out of the equation

and he suddenly clunked to a complete and
formidable stop

his blood turned to gold in golden filigree veins
spread like coral throughout his solid body

heart chambers golden lungs golden skeleton a golden tree
his tongue heavily solid in a solid gold mouth

only his eyes remaining alive
seeing all this

9/29

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