Monthly Archives: January 2014

Wrinkled But Readable

The past was a souvenir we hung
brown and seeping in the hallway.

The eternal was a tattoo
we covered over with big Elvis lips.

The reverent was a frying pan
we sautéed rockfish in–

all the while cursing and singing
at the top of our lungs.

But even with all our precautions,
Shakespeare invited himself over for dinner

and we laughed and wept and sang
until the dawn in russet mantle clad

walked or’ the dew
on yon high eastern hill.

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Marian McPartland

Liquid jazz grace
from gnarled fingers

and a mind that
held music up to the light

so the rest of us
could see clearly,

so we could hear what love
dreamed aloud sounds like.

Quoins

The corner stones
of fine baroque

masonry
buildings

contained the
spreading cries

kept blood flowing
in smooth runnels

gave Bonhoeffer’s
executioner

a warm place
to sit and have dinner

after
the hanging.

Transitions

I taught my teenage daughter
to parallel park yesterday.

She paid attention
and learned how to do it
after a few tries.

I thought I heard church bells
but maybe not.

In a month she gets
her license.

Later she drove me up the Columbia gorge
into a sharp, sun drenched afternoon.

And I became a passenger.
Again.

Pentimento

Mondrian
over
Chagall

over
Dürer

over
Lascaux

in the sky
over Portland.

Staying Alive

The D’Autremont brothers,
in jail for life for robbing a train

and killing four railroad workers
near Ashland in 1923,

spent their old age walking
circuits of the prison yard.

As they passed each other,
a brief look

and a coded message:
knight to QB3.

Railroad Vespers

As I walk home
with jaw set

into a steely cold
evening wind,

on a bare smudge of grass
near the train station,

a homeless Muslim man
kneels in prayer.