Saturday, February 28, 2015

Frog Chant at the One Percent

Frog Chant at the One Percent

The collective wealth of the world’s richest 1 percent will exceed that of the other 99 percent of the global population next year...


Kings of old, they had the decency
to bump each other off, hurling armies into swamps
of gore that ended often at their own court-    
yards, their families raped and killed, their own  
heads leering atop spikes at their battered torsos.                           
They had skin in the game, and owned the rest of us outright.  

Blood and chains, not ratified trade agreements.


They built monuments to themselves
that made them unmistakable:
pyramids, palaces, castles with lavish
feasts and entertainments, never donning 
rags to share a lice-ridden peasant’s gruel
—why on earth would a ruler do that?   

Silks and jesters, not jeans and an iPad.


They were easy to envy, compose fairy tales
about, hate, occasionally plot against. Monstrous gods,
they made clean targets. Soaked up sun and arrows aplenty.
This new breed, though—you mingle middlingly, melt from
clear view. Perch perhaps in a condo thirty floors above the deli
we go to, wait patiently behind us in a Starbucks.

Tweet and update on Facebook, suffer trolls like


To scoop it all—and yet be safe. It seems     
impossible, a trick no one could plumb         
—no one really does, I think, and yet it deepens,
with pacts and accords, various tit-for-tats,
less a well-organized conspiracy than a messy   
but inexorable convergence of interests over time.

Evolution of owning, wealth retardants bred away.  


And now the planet’s on the line—what do you fear? 
Little or nothing is my guess. Amnesia and distraction 
have snared you like the rest of us, fogs of status
quo you lay down and are blinded by. When you peer hard,  
do you see something like those oblivious frogs
in a pot of water brought slowly to a boil?

Limp amphibians, smiling as they scald. 


It’s true—in pricklings, we realize it. Except—guess what?
There’s no safe perch on a cooking cauldron.
Bottom roasts first, but rim gets red-hot too
—it just takes longer. And the steam of seven billion
rotting will be some stench to suffocate in,
skin peeling in screams from your astonished bones—

Just silence then. No child left to damn, forgive or even
                                                remember you.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Horta Elegy (Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015)

Horta Elegy

Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015









Thursday, February 19, 2015

Murdering Li Bai

Murdering Li Bai

Mangling your “Quiet Night Thoughts” once again,
this time in a corner of this mostly-closed mall

on Family Day, among a scattering of lattes and smartphones,
keeping my voice low I send your measured tones skidding

and flopping every which way, clumsy as geese on glare ice,
as T’ao Ch’ien, Meng Hao-Jan, Lu Yu, Yang Wan-Li and all my 
                                                            other heroes

tremble in eternity awaiting their turn (don’t even ask
why I have to do it out loud—I just do, that’s all                    

have to hear what came out of your mouth thirteen centuries
ago on some mountain come out of mine, however half-assedly)

Poor old moon-besotted master,
how it helps to hear you laugh whole-heartedly at these adoring 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Report from No-Name

Report from No-Name

Sick as we’ve been for so long, our loved ones
sick too, it’s hard to find a good so small
it’s safe from pain’s decay. Like burying
the food you’ve got in a small iron box
so deep in the earth the rats won’t guess it’s
there, much less try to dig it up and gnaw
it open. Those tireless teeth and little paws!
And yet we do it, you and I, day after day
we find it and build it, our small good sanctuary
—the “delicate web” you’ve called it—
here in No-Name Apartment, so spacious and
ailing it’s perfect too, no dissonance, in chairs
astride the hole in the ceiling, water dripping
into a roasting pan, I read T’ang poems, forgetting
what I read and reading it again, and you read
manga, broad inks flaring across a tiny screen,
never forgetting one you’ve read but
luckily there are thousands of them. Whole days
can pass like this. The best, the luckiest days. In 
the evening we drink gin and red wine—too
much, which is the just-enough we need. You
create a simple meal—always delicious, never the
same twice—out of a handful of vegetables, a
little meat sometimes, and rice, and we eat two
helpings after clinking glasses, watching whatever
your rambles have pulled in today from cyberspace: 
techniques of masonry and stained glass in an old
cathedral, how the engineers at Machu Pichu
solved the problems of drainage ingeniously,
saving the emperor’s mountain terraces from simply
sliding away. Awe is good for the digestion.  
The best days blend, one into the other, variations
on a theme, and at night in our bed I curl gratefully
behind you, two chipped and tarnished spoons in
a dark drawer, working my hand around over your
night clothes to find your heart, its faint stubborn
thudding far beyond loss, deep below sorrow.