Up Close and Nuclear
Click below to read selections from
Up Close and Nuclear
When was I knighted?
I remember no sword
laid like a butterfly
on my tingling shoulder.
I know of no deed
in my patchy past
my persona to peerage.
But, as I walk the streets
of the town, in spring
when the lawnmowers roar,
or fall when leaf blowers howlÂ
like no known animal,
and I say Good Morning
to young men wielding them,
it’s always Good Morning, Sir.
But, I want to cry
to them, coffee-colored,
their lives from peonage
no, no, tenfold No!
I’m not an earl, a duke,
just an ordinary guy,
your peer, one with you.
And really, not that old.
for Ed Nammour
It seems a travesty, a lyric perversity,
greeting a friend, not seen for weeks,
the sun shining like a harvest feast,
to protest my poetry progress is weak
I have world enough and time
while he, poet in spirit at least,
produces TV spots full time
in today’s endless-stress, killer ad-versity,
with hardly time enough or world
to read, much less write, a poem,
all I have to do, conversely,
is look inside the glass-door knob
of infinitely reflecting facets
of a flickering personality
and look outside at the infinitely mysterious facts
of this wondrous, ravishing absurdity
of a world, and invest,
where they co-exist,
in the gravity, and grace, of a lyric.
Through the automated, so accommodating doors,
past rows of carts gaping with emptiness,
I walk onto the floor of this windowless fortress,
and am floored.
Above, left and right, the ceiling stretches away to the horizon,
so wide I fantasize a jet winging across the sky.
Ahead, in an area larger than Chartres cathedral,
pillars support shelves of – kyrie eleizon!
Lord, have mercy upon us – things,
in the tens of thousands things, and my breath slows to a crawl,
lettuces, blouses, vanities, pliers, recliners, thongs.
Thinking I need less salvation than a lesson
in navigation, I seek a person –
tiny, under five feet, under 90 pounds, under 20, under (she seems) stress –
who gestures, straight, left, right,
like a priest making the sign of the cross.
Aisle by cross-aisle, I walk past the mass
I do not want, washers, fridges, vanities, mirrors, kitsch sketches.
At a crossroads again I ask –
small boned, meek as a lamb, seeming as self-contained as a box of matches –
and I weave, ever deeper, into the maze.
Finally, in this container of vast width and breadth but,
under acres of flat white ceiling with de minimis
height, I arrive at the spot
holding – hallelujah! –
my item (credo in unum),
and I learn from the uniform –
minimum wage, minimalist breasts, possible purple rage compressed like phosphorous? –
Domine, dona nobis pacem, oh Lord, give us peace,
it’s sold out.
What they’re saying about Up Close And Nuclear:
“ … another stunning collection …”
“ … moving, generous, lyrical …”
“His language both echoes a shared canon and creates new words, bringing immedicacy and depth to his work”
“ … timeless themes of love, meaning and human connection …”