8 P.M. IN THE CITY
When a quarter moon can’t illuminate,
neon does just fine.
Hairstyles bob in the bouncing light.
Arms are branches suitably gold leaved.
Good old saliva. Good old smoke.
One spits down. One floats up.
City air, can’t get enough of its
City gardens, love those butterflies on fire.
And nothing like burned-out tenements.
Who do we bomb next?
Kids on welfare are watching the skies.
And what fish the brown river cannot kill
are immune until tomorrow lunchtime..
Meanwhile tens of thousands of rough gourmets
are devouring the menus’ temptations.
In clubs, hormones are boiling on the dark suit stove.
The people of perfume, of money, of sushi bars
and Robert Ludlum, stream through theater doors
to catch a falling song.
And I love car-parks like I love bad breath,
six story ones all the better.
No one will find an exit until one a.m. at least.
Better hang in the glittering hotel lobby
and imagine you’ve enough left over for a room.
What a sublime consciousness
is steel and brick and concrete and glass.
Even William Blake can feel a poem coming on.
On highways, on narrow roads,
a million cars are gulping down the world’s gasoline.
That’s what you get when you just can’t get enough.
HER SON IS IN IRAQ
Three months gone, and the nightly
news has never been louder.
Is it too much to ask of war to be silent.
who makes a place for them at the table?
And a reporter in the battle zone
talks calmly into a microphone.
He doesn’t kiss his wife long distances,
merely speaks for the corpses at hand.
Three months gone by, it’s six now,
and everyone in uniform knows her son, every
helicopter flies him somewhere,
every rifle round has her screaming “Duck!”
A child of four killed by a roadside bomb.
Well at least he’ll never grow up to be dead.
And there’s the reporter again,
walking slowly through the rubble
that’s some suicide bomber’s handiwork
while, in the background, the locals
are left to wonder who he’s talking to,
why his back’s to them.
CHURCH BELLS MAY RING
How loud the cry of church bells on this night,
high as spire spearing cloud
and echoing through the valley.
No tune exactly, merely a ding
and a dang and another ding and dang,
counting out the hour, shrill and solemn.
The father wakens from his sleep.
Church’s ding is countered by his “damn.”
The mother still knits in the parlor.
She awaits the telling dong
but if won’t come, not for cross,
not for prayer, not for the plaster Virgin Mary
staring down at her.
The kids don’t care. They’re buried under sheets,
headphones blocking out all sound.
One man’s ding will always be a child’s air guitar solo.
How loud the cry of the people on this night.
A father’s “damn.”
A mother’s disappointment.
And kids, a world away.