What grand intelligence is this
that sends its tiny armies to undo, unfold,
’til every head bursts open?
What shameful mockery
leaves us thus, to hold our faces high
on so slim a stalk?
We, who would preen on every breeze?
But left unblessed, we droop
and sigh instead.
There must have been some lesson in it—
crafting beauty which
must be staked or caged.
Or was it just a drunken afterthought?
Or wager, perhaps, to see who would
overlook so glaring a flaw?
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“—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?”
(“Futility” by Wilfred Owen)
Your sugar plastic meat free life,
your efforts to conserve,
preserve environmental health,
consumption of some friendly bugs
(because because) and seven hours
every night, and exercise,
runs and walks and weights
to make you strong and pump
your cells with oxygen
that keeps you toned, and feeds your brain,
which you work more with puzzles,
articles in journals
and the latest books you load
onto devices and devour
to stay enlightened,
be informed beyond the news
you watch each night.
And when the virus hit,
you did your part as fiercely
as it adapted,
and masked and Zoomed
and ordered in,
and brought meals to your neighbors,
wept as family friends
got sick and died,
attended funerals remotely,
brought righteous fury to your ballots
while reveling in advances
that brought Mars into your home
and kept researchers toiling
in their labs for a vaccine,
the chance to bare your arm,
and feel safe again with friends,
in transit, stores,
one day, one day…
(because you’re a believer, dare to hope)
Only to have it all undone,
By easy purchase of a gun.
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I found a moth on my kitchen window,
climbing up the screen.
It was a large moth, close to an inch, I think—
I didn’t measure,
and it seemed confused
by endless mesh
beneath its legs, its feet—
fragile, if moths have them,
I didn’t check—
and morning’s heat,
the lack of exits,
how it became so impossibly trapped.
At another time,
I might have grabbed a weighty book—
Gray’s Anatomy, perhaps—
and disregarding frantic flaps,
each frenzied dodge,
would have taken aim
in memory of garments lost—
cashmere sweaters, silk shirts—
to their nestling appetites,
Acrylic doesn’t suit their tastes.
But on this morning,
without a care for material salvation—
the artifice of dress, donned image—
I grabbed a glass instead,
possessed by instincts to
Its wings fluttered hard
against its new transparent jail—
momentary, but how could it know?—
then spread wide upon release.
On any other day, I would have crushed it,
for reasons that seemed right.
But not today…not today.
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