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March 22, 2017 | Poetry

Two Poems

Rosebud Ben-Oni

Two Poems photo

Signals

When dead whales wash up on your shores,
it's not your insult to heaven, nor your fifteen-

        foot song carried

                       by high tide into flushing bay
& moored at laguardia airport. Nor the orcas who decay

        in glass cages, nor the earthened-ware
        body of Tilikum
  
you whited-out
with lanolin so that he might

survive a long transport without
                water.

It was not for you, when the raven flew
        out to sea, never to return

                with olive leaf.

Tell us not of crows that gorge upon crucifix
        & the shipwrecked.

No good does your conscience do
in a frenzy

& anthropomorphic
mirrors

whether in joy or comfort

only madness makes. The real signs

are those you don't even know
you are sending.

                        Bless

                your heart,

        your big, shining,
        big-hearted
        heart,

for all you will have to answer.


When We Grow Up Our Hearts Don't Have to Die

In ikea we share a cup of black coffee
Just a single cup
Like the orthodox jews
Who go to ikea & break not
The rules of kashrut
Sharing like cup
& I wonder if it's an uncle or aunt
Of mine sitting at those tables
Silently
Sharing
Not discussing how they too got overwhelmed
By too many fake bedrooms
& fake hallways & fake
Kitchens where they could not break not the word of
God & when they want to do good in this world
I wonder if they know there's a standard
Of you
My dear friend
Biking to rikers in the rain to care for your patients
Without raincoat
Or rainproof
Pants you cover yourself in polyurethane
Scavenged from your "things"
I think of all not forgiven by my observant
Family who probably would not believe
There goes a doctor who fed her chicken patty
To three rain-soaked coyotes
Making camp
Near the bike rack
That in shanghai even as a baby you saved whatever
Most unusable & unfit for play
& touched with new purpose 
When I want to be a good jew in this world I leave
Empty the ikea trolleys & books unshelved 
& stacked high on the floor & take
A train to gardens not yet laid I take
A train always crowded
One stop past
Last stop & pass
Abandoned halls & rusted rain
Yards of emptied trains neatly ordered
On the fringes of colonial graveyards
Where the wildflowers & the weeds
& the stalks & the fields I fail to be
Present each & every second
Always so close to calling
A good day's work
In a single day
That is you
As the world lives & breathes
But does it know
Does it know
There are no last stops
Only stations

 

image: Bryan Bowie


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