Sitting on my working desk
rests a small meteorite,
made of iron and when lifted
is heavier than one might expect.
It was found in the
Soviet Union in 1947,
one of many fragments
that were harvested.
Speeding through black matter.
Unfathomable cycles of hot and cold.
A journey of millions of miles
that cannot penetrate the human mind.
The flaming descent. The greatest
test of god particles. There
were winners and losers—
were all winners. The way nature works.
What are the odds of this conglomerate
landing on our little planet? And
the greater odds that a speck
would come to rest on my desk?
It is a persuasive reminder of
where I am and how
outrageous it is to cling
to even a speck of ego.
In a brain as old as mine
there are many hooks carousing
through the nooks and crannies
of human intelligence,
looking for memories that when
snagged will cause pain.
These many hooks multiply
over time and are not neutral.
They are persistent in their search and
grab hold only when suffering is found.
Then the line is jerked upward
and brought to the conscious self.
They are evil and relentless. They come
while listening to stories, watching a movie,
or when the mind is not
completely in the present.
These heartless hooks are triggered by an
association in the present of some
similar event in the past. If they persist
and win most of the scrimmages
a life can be diminished with agony.
When the search for suffering
becomes less productive
the hooks dig deeper to find
the less reachable areas of repression
which makes its owner
shout, or sigh or double over
as if struck by a stomach blow.
They are near impossible to manage.
They stay with the emotion-bound past
ripping apart the present. Some hooks
becomes weaker and frail as
the years pass but it is only by dying
that they evaporate as the mind
The two gangs have been
enemies for years.
The neighborhood children
take the places of those
who die and there are plenty
of guns to go around.
Two gang members
initiate a drive-by shooting
seeking revenge for some
unknown act of little consequence.
The driver shouted,
"There's one of those bastards."
The bullets rage from the gun.
One strikes the side of a house,
another whistles toward
the shaded porch.
One missile strikes a dark
figure crouching in the bushes.
The shooters speed off
with sounds of screaming wheels.
Next day the headline proclaims
that a famous athlete has been arrested
for drinking and driving.
There is a small article
reporting that a drive-by shooting
killed a child and his grandfather.
The leaves dance to
lifting up and down
like unacquainted lovers
mostly square dances
one group does the minuet
the green leaves
are not good dancers
the yellow ones
are lighter on their feet
when the heavy snow
comes the dancers
are no longer seen
they are tired
and welcome the rest.
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
When you didn’t come to hear us play, it crushed;
I gathered my strength of trumpet and went on,
but you weren’t there. No point now whether I rushed
or dragged or diverged from this “show must go on”
mode upon which I fix. I found the excitement;
my trumpet partners and I stayed fully aligned
through Polovetsian Dances, a blood incitement
for pressing on through Saint-Saëns (he, much maligned),
and Copland’s “Hoe-Down” from Rodeo, Superman.
Conductor Peter, filling the late Michael’s shoes,
was superb. But you weren’t there. Downhearted I scanned
at concert’s end the thinning crowd. Heads, shoes.
My love, now I know you were a casualty.
Work claimed you. When will Time harmonize you and me?
The late September light softens
parking lot, lavenders over the gray.
Lampposts taller than ever. The sky’s
vast hand goes yellow-white just
palming, caressing each hill, bird,
ambling human. Here I sit sick
with dread, longing, love: that
above-stomach knot is my heart. Here
you stand as you stood yesterday,
eyes on mine, lips silently caroling
Absent! How you press your lovely
ghost bronzefist into my Thinker brow.
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
in unison of dreams
thinking of stars
hermetic and free
like Medusa herself
clothed in mystery
not afraid of Jason,
with eyes intent
on being perfected
as a woman.