Dia de Muertos in a Parking Lot
23 July 2017

The big trucks roll along the interstates
And bear in their wombs the American soul:
Made-in-China shoes, ‘phones, dolls, cartoon tees
Scented soaps, baseball bats, and hipster hats

And the dead. Disposable merchandise
In the commerce of nations, the subjects
Of learned discourse and bigoted rant
Everyone in America wants to be famous

Coyotes dispose of their human cargo

And

How easy for us to say we didn’t know

Does the Point Vanish? Or do We?

In poetry there is no vanishing point
No lines converging in flat distances
Upon a gessoed plane of pleynt and paint
Skillfully rendered for the imagination

In poetry lines flow as languid streams
Or sometimes storm the soul as wilding floods
For seldom do they pause and build a pose
Because lines are imagination


No
                           Lines converge in flat dis
                               Tances because in
                                   Poetry there
                                     Is no van
                                        Ishing
              ­                                 .

Cassandra and Simon

Rose and Neil eloped to America
Mrs. Blossom is forever silent now
Mortmain in solitude emends his drafts
And Topaz dances under the summer moon

Even The Shape seems to have withdrawn itself
From Godsend Castle, where Cassandra writes
Shaping into meaning the wreckages
For she will build a life true to herself

Whether or not Simon ever returns
But wait – the foot of the lane – those car lights…

A Rainbow Bends toward Eternity

A rainbow bends toward Jerusalem
Constantinople too, and holy Rome
(Though some have said the last cannot be so!)
And makes each dome glow in reflected Light

And whether the Cross is signed left to right
Or right to left, only let it be signed,
And with the work-worn hand of an ‘umble man
Who prays each day in offering up himself

Seasons sail by, like ships upon the sea

and still

A rainbow bends toward Eternity

Always Check for Scorpions in Your Boots

If in Viet-Nam you enjoyed the right
Of taking off your smelly boots at night
You kept them close to you, lest they march away
You didn’t want to be barefoot at break of day

Then when some idiot yelled “Boots and saddles!”
(He’d seen too many films, and was somewhat addled)
(True, “saddles” and “addled” don’t really rhyme)
You checked for scorpions every old time

Though now your uniforms are ties and suits
You always check for scorpions in your boots

Read the scorpions in the last line as a metaphor.

A Veteran of the Wars

This old warrior has many tales to tell:
He’s sailed among the distant Philippines
Built ships all over the world, repaired tanks
In Germany, was in the desert wars

He served with the Marines, and the Navy too
And can tell you everything about the Aegis -
And does –
                          but he was never in the service;
He’s a sacker at the supermarket

This poor old man; he never got it right
But God bless him – he had his own wars to fight

The Canals on Mars

From an allusion by Robert Royal1

Martians spent centuries building canals
Across great continents to irrigate
Their fields, and on barges of marvelous design
Voyage across their picturesque red lands

They watch us through wonderful telescopes
And send out ships whose missions seem to be
To crash into Earth’s deserts with little green men –
Alas that none of this was ever true!

There are no canals, only an optic blur:
We will miss those Martians who never were


1Robert Royal: “Are Americans from Mars?” The Catholic Thing, 17 July 2017.

Robert A. Heinlein’s boys’ books were part of my childhood. I am sorry that I will never meet a Martian.
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