It’s the empty signature line,
that blank place on the form
right after the word, name.
It’s the x we tried to find in math,
the unknown in chemistry lab,
the final line to the word puzzle
we worked on all afternoon.
It’s what’s missing from too fat
phone books, with their pages
and pages of Smiths and Joneses,
so many they become disguises
that everyone of no one wears.
It’s a being being willfully invisible,
not even the shadow of himself
or herself, as the case may be.
It’s the person today who called
three times, and left no message
from their unlisted number.
It’s why there’s graffiti aplenty,
nameless faces, faceless names
following us all over the city.
It’s why some of us don’t vote,
and some don’t call their families
for months and months.
It’s the way I feel in a crowd
these days, bumped and jostled,
a nuisance, an inconvenience,
a blank at the bottom of the page
I tried so hard to write.
It settles everywhere, it settles everything
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the words seem
Ironic as we Swiffer and Pledge our way
Through our house, as if there was hope of
Getting ahead of it, as it sifts down behind
Our efforts, fills in, waits; I have written
My name, more than once, in the dust, tried
To record the moment as it passed, as I
Passed briefly by, the dust, each time, fills in
Inherits my name, blanks it, blends it into
The surface, a blanket of dirt, of dust to dust.
The sequence is set. The time will come, and he will call
from a newly purchased disposable phone, he’ll call and
say the signal phrase, and we, even if we don’t know the
others or where what we do fits into the sequence, will do
our assigned task, the things we have been waiting to do
all these years in deep cover, and then it all will be set in
motion – one thing triggering the next, triggering the next,
it will stop them in the street, catch them in the classroom,
the politician mid-speech, the singer mid-song, salesmen
and carpenters, businessmen mid-deal, lawyers and lovers,
a chain reaction, an avalanche, a tsunami of change will come
and the world we think we know will never be the same,
there will be light at the end of the tunnel, the end of our day,
and we will be speeding toward it, hanging on for the ride.
Consider the Lilies
While they don’t toil or spin, they do need a few things
For instance, fields, preferably, with six to eight hours
Of sun a day, proper planting, deep enough with proper
Spacing, and thorough watering to start, then tending
With fertilizer every two weeks, watering in summer, if
By chance it doesn’t rain an inch a week, but once they
Catch on they put on quite a show, Solomon in all his glory
Etcetera, etcetera, all that biblical rant about transience
The things of today getting cast in the oven of tomorrow
But here, without a burn permit, that never really happens
And the birds not sowing or reaping or gathering and yet
Every morning first thing I fill up the feeder and spread
Some on the ground for all the walk around ground birds
As if their heavenly father could easily slip up and forget
This once, as it seems He does so often with the rest of us.