Freeing General Grant

 

1

 

What kind of mind

Would encircled Grantís Tomb

With a tiled Mosaic,

Images of Native Americans

Mingling with African History

For which the somber tomb

Was never meant to bear

When constructed?

 

The man inside rests too

Comfortably beside his wife

Having done his job to free

The ancestors of the people living

In the neighborhood around him.

 

For years, a black man

Over saw the care of this

Great manís grave

Grown outraged perhaps

By the outrageous attempts

Of society to undo all

Grant sought to do.

 

Perhaps the mosaic

Filled with images of contemporary

African American suffrage

Is tribute enough

Saying even modern man

Recognizes all Grant tried to do,

And that our greatest tribute is

To simply remember

 

 

2

 

You can hear

The click of wires

For miles

Along the rusted

Rail road track

 

While sleeping

Through the cold nights

In frozen ditches

To either side

 

Expecting the yard men

From the brutal

Rail road company

To snatch you up

With their pinching fingers

 

Men in flat hats

And polished

Billy clubs

Waking you up with a tap

As if waking the dead

 

Though on most nights

These men cling

To their shacks

And their oil drum fires

You can smell

But feel no warmth from

 

Most nights you hear

Only the clicks

Reaching out of the past

And into the future

Along the many miles of track

Moving faster

Than any train

Traveling with the speed of light

Clicking,

Clicking,

Clicking

 

 

3

 

No pens this time

No paper

Just the rude intrusion of years

And doubts

Still an undergraduate

Stumbling along

 

You need inspiration these days

To make money

Even on the stock market

Writing down the details

Signing contracts

Packing paper the way

The pioneers once packed provisions.

 

Who are you, they ask?

Why are you here again?

 

I wait on the edge of a tear drop

Expecting a result,

A look, smile or touch

Something reserved just for me.

 

I waited for as much

My first time here

A stone man cracking

With each step

 

The weight of my troubled life

Making me sink into the ground

 

No pens this time, just memory

Rattling around inside

My empty head and heart

Like a dying moth inside a jar

My whole life locked up

In this coming and going.

 

 

4

 

He asked me if I minded

His dating you

Obviously as attracted to you

As I am

Wishing to have you

Just as I have wished.

 

I have known you

In my mind for months

Tracking the curve

Of your breasts

And the length

Of your thighs,

Wishing I could

Insert the key into you

That makes you start

 

But wishing is not acting

And I fear to return

To the scene of my crime

My head aching

With thoughts of you

The way my body does

 

My mind driven crazy

By the idea that another

Man might want you, too,

This man so kind as to

Ask my permission,

As if I owned you,

As if I am your father,

 

I should have seen it coming

Knowing other might step

Where I have stepped,

Their thoughts converted

To love making

When my mind remains

Mental masturbation,

 

And I am helpless

To tell him no.

 

 

5

 

Me, sir? Iím not a sleep

I see the sun flowering over

The horizonís cliffís so steep

Lighting up purple clover

 

Me, sir? Iím no dozer

Thought shadows seep with weary eyes

Are cut blades to the mower

Before the light of eastern sky

 

Me, sir? Not I, not I

I keep my head well up

And listening to the summerís cry

Waterís flow into the valley cup

 

But sleep, Sir, yes, even I

Want even without the heavy eye

For not a day or hour or year

The song of dreamís claim to hear

 

Me, sir? Donít come so near

Or test me with your sweet, sweet breathe

Iíve seen the spring and I can hear

Autumnís call at summerís death

 

 

6

 

You can sing new lyrics

To old rock songs all you want

But no one will listen

Vietnam or Persian Gulf

Are just names on maps

To flag wagging patriots

Who could care less

About right from wrong

Deaf, dumb and blind

In the presumption

That America is always right

As the sound of bombs

Bursting in the distance

Is covered over by

The sour notes of our

National anthem

We waving flags to dispel

The stench of our own

Lust for blood

 

 

7

 

Can you guess?

There are mysteries

Under the fallen leaves

The curling lip of trees

Bearing fruit

Squirrels squiggling out

A winterís feast

Their thick gray tails fluffed

Their small brown hands

Always praying,

Even in the autumn rain

Priest serve them assorted hosts

each day in the park,

each greedy gray creature

rushing off to bury it

until need makes them dig

it up, ponds turning to ice

geese flying south

empty pine cones

lying like bodies on the brown lawn

and snow, drifting down

in a slowly descending shroud

that buries their faith even deeper

and keeps their secrets

 

 

8

 

I woke

To the catís yawn

Near the window

The dust thick

In the air

As it climbed to the sill

The moving curtain

Capturing the coming light

Like waves of heat

Or water,

Each dust particle

Caught in its slow

Fall to the floor

Sparkling like jewels

Winking, wandering then dying

In the thick cold rug

Weaved in with the cat hair

And the crumbs

From last nightís

Midnight snack

 

 


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