N  a  p  a  l  m      H  e  a  l  t  h      S  p  a         R  e  p  o  r  t     2  0  0  5



A Common Egret


If I could turn my knees around,

stand patiently in shallow water,

looping my long snake-thin neck

as I stare at the dim shapes of small fish

I stir up with my feet, I would be

a white egret meditating on a meal

in the solitude of salt marshes.


You might see my head raised above

a field of reeds like a strong flower,

then disappear as I strike lightning fast

at the substance of a shadow.


If you look upon me too long, I feel

the hollowness of my stomach, then

unfolding my ungainly wings, I lift myself

a few yards above & distant, to a place

I imagine I am once again invisible.


You would do well to imitate me,

learn the art of fishing

& mind your own business.






A little girl wearing a pink dress

stands by the reception desk

in the mental health clinic,

Her eyes fixed on a man

holding an unopened red umbrella.

There is nothing peculiar

or remarkable about the man

except for the red umbrella

he has brought on a sunny day.


"Latisha, come here," says her mother,

a tall attractive woman with

tightly braided hair. Latisha

doesn't hear her mother. She is

gazing at the man with an umbrella.


"Latisha, What are you looking at girl,

come here." But Latisha is over there

by the reception desk, looking

at the man with the umbrella.


Her mother stands up, walks over,

gently takes the little girl's hand,

leads her to the seats. The eyes

of girl never leave the man

holding the red umbrella.


Latisha, if you would be a poet,

you must stand over there,

as if your soul depended upon it,

you must stay over there until

your mother brings you over here.




Memorial Day


Gold Star Mother, to you

the honor of a white Cadillac

at the front of the parade.


Then your slow steps

escorting the wreath

up the gray slate path

to the war monument

by the public library.


Each clang of the fire engine bell

is the face of someone's son.


Four old veterans with rifles

fire blanks at the blue sky,

a nervous boy plays "Taps."


They rest there for weeks,

your ribbons & fading flowers.




Pentecost Sunday


Today is a good day.  The sky is Blueberry Hill.

An artist in front of the church uses watercolors.

A weed growing from the bottom of a drainpipe

has a flowering bud.  Everything is marked down

thirty to sixty percent including

translucent Jesus, a fat cop on his beat

eyeing the sleeveless teenage girls,

& the leftover Easter candy. An afternoon

without mysteries.  No one has to pray.

We obtain what we desire. Not a single person

is disappointed. Even funerals are canceled,

all the recent dead are returning to life.

After Hell there is always Purgatory,

& the ascending concentric circles of Heaven.

Stop by for a new language & a free map.