Friday, May 31, 2013

Divided Tongues Like Fire

Within the pink-licked walls of St. Patrick’s Church
in a suburb of Kennett Square, the wedding Mass 
creaks along like a player piano roll
as the pastor drones the familiar instructions
-Simon says rise, Simon says be seated, 
drop to your knees- designed to keep 
the sleepy herd from nodding off. 
The congregation mumbles its lines 
 without enthusiasm, except for my mentally challenged aunt,
who bellows and groans at the top of her lungs
as if she was possessed. 

The priest has already unspooled the line
that will lash my cousin and his buxom bride
together forever in the eyes of God,
clouded with cataracts though they may be.
Odd that this pasty, bespectacled man
should be granted this divine authority.
The rest of us mumble along to those 
monotonous hymns, as at the top of her lungs,
my aunt hollers Amen, Amen.

After the service, I smile and greet her warmly
as she's being wheeled across the parking lot
toward her waiting carriage, the group home
minivan. She frowns and turns her head away, 
refusing to speak to me. I've never seen her do 
 anything like this before. I'll admit, 
I'm rattled by the snub. 
My grandmother always called my aunt 
her "angel sent down from heaven." 
The nurse is taking her back to the home
so she won't be at the reception, 
where I will sit alone and drink myself into 
a state of tongue-tied oblivion, wondering if
the God I wrote off so long ago
as being nonexistent 
was enlisting her, his earthly mediator,
to deliver me a message, 
without a word and yet 
perfectly eloquent.

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Perfect Death


Screen door bangs 
Bare toes on warm wood
Ease onto the metal rocker
Book and a glass of iced tea
Gentle knock of bamboo wind chimes
An occasional car, distant dog or lawnmower
Leaf rustle, bird twitter
Turn the pages, notice the pleasant
Weight of drowsiness
Eyes grow heavy, difficult to keep
Them open, and really there’s no need to,
There is no rush, may as well
Let them close for just
a little while

Friday, May 17, 2013

Allosaurus

The Brontosaur’s neck is spiderwebbed with red
and strung with a piercing necklace
of Allosaurus incisors. Talons slash and rip
crimson gashes in the upholstery of its hide.  
The behemoth bellows, lashes its tail.
Head whips dizzy eyewhites flash
in agony. All the illustrations
from this most treasured of library books
titled simply DINOSAURS are tattooed
on the inside of my skull. I can still flip
to where a saber-toothed something
claws at the rug of a woolly something else,
both beasts stuck and sinking
into the black gunk of history.
Thirty years later and there they are,
all of them, for real, as if projected
from the back of my brain onto
the top floor of the Natural History Museum
then stripped of flesh: The Archaeopteryx,
flapping and flailing like a dancing kachina doll.
The  Sherman tank Ankylosaur.
The ridiculous duckbills. The splayed deck of cards
teetering atop the Stegosaurus’s spine.
All of them solid, no longer paper-flat.
Pterodactyls strung from the ceiling
by their knuckles. Gargantuan amphibians,
Mordex and Eryops and Diadectes,
and yes, the Brontosaur, though they don't
call them that anymore, it's Apatasaurus now
but still just as impressive, even reduced to a scaffold
of steel-reinforced bones, still ridden
by its carnivorous tormentor.
Strange that it took me so long to get here.
That little boy who flipped the pages
is long gone, his skeleton preserved
within the thunder lizard’s ribcage,
clutching the bony bars,
happily imprisoned in the Jurassic,
preferring its monsters to the less
spectacular ones awaiting him outside.