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February 1, 2011

“Submission, self-denial, diligent work . . .”
Bleak House, Charles Dickens

We are waiting for the moolah,
kneeling in reverent postures, in compliance
with village regulations and strict adherence
to Code, with constant entreaties & supplications,
beseeching The All-Powerful for their swift reply
to the Covenant— the sand anointed by rain,
the stone cemented by light.

Our display of fervent labor is waning—splitting
rose granite on heaped shards,
packed gravel and spilled concrete:
footings poured and billed, nothing to height,
disgraced mortar over rusted angle irons—
atoning for the unplumbed, the rejected rubble.

In contrition for the splays, the efflorescent faces
and discoloration, the variations in capstones,
we go on . . . go on, unworthy
penitents bowing and disconsolate,
knowing the wages of betrayal
and the ancient punishments.

Waiting, waiting for the supreme pages,
celestial tapestries, the renting of an edge
through the illuminated land—
the ecclesiastical dash and signature in our hands,
final bestowal and our submission.

Lauds, Vespers, Compline, and still Nones, nothing:
no banded altars of pressed green,
Elysian reward in all denominations,
your remuneration and countenance,
no pale seal of your distracted recognition.

Tracking the Storm

January 1, 2011

The Channel Seven Weather Team giddy
in the studio with warnings and precautions,
urging essential supplies with simple graphics:
blue waves for water, a yellow lantern,
plus signs on red D batteries. Toy colors for
their audience of shut-ins and NON-ESSENTIAL
PERSONNEL, we viewers without plows,
the unproductive slow responders, at-home
shirkers with tremulous companies, missing
this mobilization, the hijinks and festivities.

Such elation! Parking ban on city streets!
Cancellations galore! No evening classes
at Abundance of Life. Little Miracles Pre-School
closed. Road to Responsibility closed. Reporters
drenched in hooded parkas, braced on jetties
for high tide while waves pound the block piers
of summer homes. The station gloats: outages,
impassable interstates; standing by to broadcast
the Governor Live from the State Police barracks.

The wall of snow accumulating at an inch-an-hour,
visibility a problem in this dome of high pressure,
snow in tuba like ovals on the cut stone seawall,
batches of fresh plaster slapped on granite hawks.

Black Dresses and Bloody Marys

December 8, 2010

More people than you would think attended
Her memorial. At 85, An Avid Gardener, she won
Top prizes at the flower shows, and at seventy ascended
To chair the town’s conservation commission.

The minister mentioned her cherished rain gauge.
Her youngest daughter remembered the short
Plays she and her cousins penned and would stage
For the friends and literati who used her tennis court.

The noon reception following was a smash—
Caviar and sushi, smoked tuna on rye crisp;
Cheeses, grapes, and in the lime drinks, a splash
Of grenadine. An incredible lobster bisque.

High heels and sandals on the wobbly lawn,
The tanned arms of summer reaching for champagne.
Smiles, a blue linen napkin covering a yawn
As the relatives meet strangers, forced to entertain.

While the college girls the caterers hired survey
The table of grilled salmon and asparagus spears,
Wondering how many bottles of Pouilly-Fuisse
They’ll steal for the beach and chill with the beers.

Pastries on the counter with the quiches.
It’s a pageant of black dresses and Bloody Marys;
Lemon squares, biscotti, Danish with peaches,
Servers in white shirts pouring obituaries.

And Use the Kitchen

November 15, 2010

Breakfast brings
an onslaught of eating—
blazing black pans
lathered with butter frying
chicken sausages
and chopped hot dog pieces
folded into duck eggs
wrapped in oily
burrito shells
in Frank’s Red Hot
with sides of kimchi.


October 1, 2010

This delightful property has been thoughtfully surveyed
and excavated, and the full foundation has been fully
insulated with recycled glass and Patagonia vests
from fully insured contractors and carpenters who say
they have donated time and materials to much needed
affordable housing projects, while driving nothing more
than a small Tacoma or F-150. Studs are fastened
with stainless star-head wood screws fully packed
by volume in either two or five-pound boxes.

The sheetrock has been hand hammered
and the thorough sanding and painting accompanied
only by acoustic music giving an harmonious aura
to the open floor plan of the rooms. The 9-pitch roof
has been considerately constructed above the framing
and attentively angled for runoff into oaken cisterns.

Landscaping is reverently unfinished, as is the world,
solar gain revolving around our offices, kindly furnished
in Appalachian cherry, milled and planed locally.

We must be seen to be appreciated, our solicitous brokers
reflectively awaiting your sympathetic response.