The Connecticut Effect

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devastating velocity,
blood thirsty, fresh death-
dealing NRA
lies fly super-
sonic flesh thud-
ing ragged rounds
slamming into
stunned souls,
dreams
die.

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Pure Hope

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“We are not perfectly free until we live in pure hope. For when our hope is pure, it no longer trusts exclusively in human and visible means, no rests in any visible ends. “ Thomas Merton

Close the the gun’s edge
life is sharply
defined.

Clarity is achieved
when you have nothing left
but hope.

That’s when you realize
that your life stands
without any visible
means of
support;

like a high-
wire walker,
you are
pure.

That’s why
you have the freedom
to stand between
the red rage
and the children.

America

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fireworks_feature

Deep thunder shakes this warm July evening
and lightning flashes over the waterfront
filling the clear, starry sky with acrid clouds and glimmering rain
falling to the water as children gaze
in shock and awe,
waiting for the next big one to explode.

False bombardment as celebration:

such fits my nation, founded in genocide and slavery,
this nation baptized in the blood and tears
of Navaho and Cherokee and all the tribes of the American holocaust
a nation that devoured one quarter of its sons
in four short, blood-soaked years; my nation,
a nation of efficient bigots and hungry hypocrites,
giving the world Gettysburg and the Trail of Tears
as models for problem-solving;
a nation unlike any other, not able to live up to its promises
because no other nation dares make such promises.

The bright violence of rockets’ red glare lights our sky
like the bold Declaration ignited the world, and thunder
rocked mighty kings from complacent belief in their divine rights,
rocked the people of Europe, thirsting for their own rights
and land and a chance to pursue a little happiness;
yes, rocked even distant Asia, deep in its ancient dream
foolish men joyfully following the distant thunder
to seek the fabled Golden Mountain.

The promise was made and broken and made yet again,
and the anger of betrayal torched the cities of the sixties,
and singed our hearts
and in the redeeming pain of change
made them a little less impure.
Yes, we are imperfect,
but we know our sins
and pay for them over and over again,

and to remind ourselves of the debt yet unsatisfied,
every summer we celebrate in the only way fitting for such a nation;
In the starry sky fiercely glowing with liberty
and in the transcendent thunder
of the Promise.

(4 July 2011)

Vicksberg

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The river glints
in the morning light
as we slowly drive
past the guard-gate
and into the rolling hills
of the Vicksburg Battleground.

But there are no battles here today
in this ringing forest ,
on these wrinkled meadows;

These cannons spit no fire
into this soft Mississippi morning,
and no soldier falls, sighing
into these cool, dark earthworks.

Slowly we drive the winding road
past a bronze soldier
grasping his bronze rifle,
tensely gazing
into the empty distance, waiting
for the screaming charge,
of his deadly brothers.

But all anger spent,
they sleep now
under smart ranks
of gleaming stone;

Now they lie,
unknown soldiers,
lulled by whispering
Southern magnolias
far from forgotten
Northern homes.

(5 Aug 2011)

Variations on a Theme

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ChurchBodegaBay

But there are so many
To be considered.

The sky, for example,
Is blue today
And white clouds
Are gliding
Over the green continent.

Meanwhile, under the trees
Up Bonny Dune Road
Antennae tremble in the
breeze

While a bird hovers
Momentarily
And dives.

And what about me?
Suppose I’m driving towards Davenport
And I turn too fast
Around the smooth curve
And, seeing the bearded man
Bent over his tripod,
His camera aimed
At the glittering creek

I hear the screaming horn
Of a head-on pickup-truck
And crashing glass
Suddenly fills
My flaring eyes . . . .

. . . . or maybe I swerve in time
And drive on to Davenport,
To the Whaler Inn,
And with my camera
Search for the right shot –
A white church
Against brown hills.

But today I sit alone in the living room
Listening to Mozart , waiting for you

I watch as the cat stretches
By an open window
And stroke her warm fur,
Black silk in silver sunlight
On the dark red carpet.

(1977: re-posted 2017)

Transition

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The generals line-up, war-plans
in withered hands, ready to strike
the children.

But do not fear this transition!
For above the black clouds, know that He lingers,
Ready to strike!

Then will the blind see and the deaf hear.
Then will we leap for joy
As the mute break forth
In song!

Isaiah 35: 1-6A – 10.

(10 Dec 2016)

The Homecoming

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When you were in Vietnam
we got your letters, two or three at once
and then the whole house buzzed like a nest
of honey drunk bees as we poured over
your every word.

We kids imagined you, strong, tough,
blazing with righteous American fury
cutting down those dirty commies,

but Mom and Dad
read each letter more slowly
glancing at each other
with darker looks.

Then one day we got the recording you made,
tiny plastic reels, shiny brown tape wound
in fragile loops; your voice!
just like you were in the room, speaking
re-assuring, everyday chat about R&R
and shopping in Bangkok. Finally,
the tape nearly spent, you said that
you were coming home soon.

And one bright July morning
you came home! Your hat was rakishly tilted,
a Lucky cigarette carelessly drooping
from the corner of your grinning mouth,
all paratrooper swagger, gold braid running
through your buttoned shoulder loops,
colored ribbons and medals all over your chest.

As you walked through the door
I stood aside, awestruck, shy.
You sat like a visitor in your own home
and we opened the packages you brought for us,
Christmas in July, as one by one we held
our Asian wonders, and watched
as Mom held your hand and
Dad searched your eyes.

But you were tired, so upstairs in my room
you took a midday nap, and when Mom told me
to wake you up for supper, I nudged your shoulder
and you bolted,
breathless,
down the steps,
into the quiet street
and stood at tense attention,
(the neighbors all gawking),
as you waved your M-16
made of air
and memory,

and waited
for the morters
to fall
and kill us all.

Then the light returned to your eyes.
Slowly you walked back to the house
and gently took me by my shoulders
and told me to never,
never
touch you when you were asleep,

and I never asked you why.

(11/11/2010)