Thursday, February 4, 2010


When I say hero, I know what I do not mean:
A horse rider, a loud noise, gallant bastard,
Public servant, honored and seen.
Not the man who leans to snatch
Small child from crocodile’s mouth,
And not the soldier stepping before
A small Iraqi woman to block
The off-throw of an improvised blast.

The hero I call up rises each morning,
To the talk in his head shouting him down,
Crosses wood planks of worn floor
To face a small mirror for the first encounter.
He is older by a day and full of his lists
Of must-does and the-thousand-tasks
Met by a chorus of silence,
He contends with the invisible:

Advance of the virus,
A slight loss of sight greater than yesterday,
A capacity to stand under bright light
Accompanied by no back-fill of strings,
Not one volunteer to listen
To the tedious litany
Except for the plentiful paid ears
In the ubiquitous 50 minute show and tell.

Persistence makes its case for bravery.
Action, absent acknowledgment, adds up
To a sequence of steps taken
Without the comfort of plot or the assurance
Of a receiving line to greet you with a "well done."
See the child then add the years and stand as witness
To a tenacity that sustains him all on his own.

February 4, 2010

About Being Afraid

I waited, holding the strap on the bus,
Steady, smooth skinned, hair back -
Then a sharpness rose to scratch me
And I heard a single sentence - a message.

“You are afraid of just about everything
And you are afraid almost all of the time.”

For example, afraid that the house will be robbed,
That the people who love me will leave,
That the boss will call me in to share
That it’s not working out. . .I could go on.

“It could all be taken away,couldn’t it?”
Said the voice just before I said shut up.

In present tense a dear friend asks
How these fears and taunts, self generated,
Given that they are not based
In objective fact or observable evidence.

Years ago, my father would raise two fingers,
A stump of a bludgeon aimed
At a place between my eyes asking
What are you thinking?

I am thinking that it will all fall apart
That flight will amount to curtailed wing spread -
That I will contend with assaults without defense -
That I will never have answers for the "Then what?"

My fear is:

Pervasive in its smell and sensation -
Penetrating, going deep in the way of vapors-
Persistent, staying for hours following contact -
Putrid, held as it was in darkness for years.
With an index finger
Placed over tight closed lips.
I ask for there to be an end
Sparked by a crucial discovery
That leads to silence.

February 4, 2010