Between Beginnings

This very moment, as you take in a breath 
to speak the next line or just to whisper it 
or just to sigh a little, a girl is letting out all 
of the breath in her lungs for the very last 
time as the building around her collapses.

A man who is really just a boy is
holding his breath without realizing it 
because he cannot grasp the fear that 
he feels as he starts to pull the trigger.

He has no words for what he feels
and she has no time to make words.

And me? I am still 
breathing in.

(I wish, on this day, to remind myself that what was for us an extreme punctuation to 
our otherwise and comparatively serene lives is in fact a fact of life--yearly, monthly, 
weekly, daily--the substance of the narrative--for so many people in so many places.)

(This is, in a sense, a follow-up to this post, many years on)

This poem first appeared on my friend Jeremy Nathan Marks' project,
Poetry of the Resistance.


This man has
different skin,
different eyes,
turned down a bit
at the corners,
more shaded,
darker and deeper
than mine.

His mouth is fuller
and shapes the
sounds of our language
in ways that I can not,
in ways learned from another 
mother's tongue,
a tongue with which he prays
to a different god than I,
a tongue accustomed 
to a different palate 
of tastes, a world of dishes 
from a world away 
from the ways of my father's world
and he even lays his eyes 
upon other men
differently than I do,


this man who stands beside me is 
my brother, in every way he cannot 
otherwise be—
that does not matter—for here
in this place, at this time, 
with these meals that we share,
with these arms that we share,
this man is my brother because

this man 

is not 

that man.

Songs of Fictive Moments: The Soldiers

A bit of an experiment I have been thinking and working on.
Fictive moments.  Cinematic vignettes.  Images.  Minimal ornamentation.
A story that is mostly told by not being told.


In a cold field of gray
and stubbled grass,
six soldiers stand
in a circle smoking.

A chill fog swallows 
their words.  Their
long coats flap
in a desultory wind.

Before them,
at their feet,
at the center of their circle,
a blossom grows
from a small and 
cooling form,

one bright color marking
the early arrival of another,

as dull
as the fog, 
as the field,
as the uniforms.

They stand, 
as stiff and still 
as the stalks about them
and as dry.

At the edge 
of the field,
a crow coughs 
and climbs
into the sky.