THE MARSHES BY THE HIGHWAY
A particular path|
crosses a polluted tidal creek
where familiar monsters breed
in dark culverts.
A shopping cart in the mud
with a used syringe, limp condom,
a pair of socks, one shoe,
empty can of Colt 45,
worn tire nearby in the weeds,
an honest & visible pestilence.
A huge playground for rats
echoing genocide at high tide,
the Lenni Lenape Memorial
buried in fifty gallon drums
beside the late James Hoffa.
Somewhere along this great trading route
hidden by tall grasses & black muck,
we crouch near a small campfire
like silent night herons.
Whenever we barter this paradise
for the price of tomorrow's lunch,
we forget how we came here,
how we once spoke of ourselves,
burning our noble words with dead twigs.
THE WAR MONUMENT
What is nailed to granite|
takes us hostage to a myth of optimism,
a community where no babies
are abandoned in garbage cans,
wise old women in lawn chairs
fanning themselves with astrological charts,
highways repaved but never widened,
all retail clerks brothers and sisters,
poets riding motorized skateboards,
good manners among neighbors
because no one is too rich or too poor,
the serene aftermath of war
our fertile real estate.
A cat in the dark alley
knocks over a garbage can,
cockroaches pass through poison
as through a slightly unusual room,
don't be afraid, what you see
is a reflection in the window
of an oriental woman
peeking over her glasses
while she works at a sewing machine.
A soldier clothed in green patina
marches past the public library
for his proud Gold Star Mother.
We are taught our wars are kindnesses,
favors we do for our enemies.
Peace is also a litany of greed,
fading uniforms, reams of paper
with secrets printed on them.
Waking up in a strange hospital,
hearing the butterflies screaming.