First Brush with Death
I was four when your grandmother died.
We made the trip from Florida to Pennsylvania.
It was snowing when we got there;
that’s one of my earliest memories,
the flakes falling down from the sky,
easy on the breeze, melting in my hands.
I was frustrated that I couldn’t keep them,
amazed at how they vanished.
I don’t remember anything about the funeral
except the ground was cold when I sat on it.
I played a game with the snow while people talked
over my head; I’d catch flake after flake
and make them disappear.
We visited her home after the funeral.
She left some things for you.
I remember how the kitchen was covered
in ants like living wallpaper.
They were bigger than the ants in Florida
and darker too; I was fascinated by them,
wondered where they had all come from,
where they would all go.
I had to get out of the way, you said.
But I could take something,
anything I wanted from the kitchen.
I chose three large wooden spoons,
called them shovels. You sent me out
to dig holes for the ants,
and when you said that you cried.
All afternoon you cried while I dug
tiny graves in the snow.
If Every Footstep Made a Sound
These men dance when their blood is boiling;
these men sing when they are out of words.
Veil your face while these merry men mar the
world, slashing blindly at the roots.
Can’t you see the butterfly dance in time with the
violin whilst the shongololos roll the Earth in herds,
numbers so great the galaxy is forced to march?
The floating army, the well-disciplined old coots
who fight in wars that are never won or lost.
Tell that to the Afghans, the Koreans, the Kurds.
Wink at them with your big round prairie eyes,
or are you afraid of guerillas in pajamas, cats in suits
whose drones fly overhead taking our temperatures,
razing cities, raising ruckus, mocking the birds.
“What are you fighting for?” asks the mother of
her child while she cuts the laces of his boots.