Shape changers

Your mother, your father, were born to die
I feel for that family, I sure do
Collector of stamps, ancient histories, butterflies,
he doesn’t hang on or let go
Marred from the start by
the terror of clowns, memoirs, circuses, book-covers,
makeup, summaries, sweet smelling soaps, prickly plants,
and sweet, sweet cologne
He laughs, he always laughs
Perspiration positively drips off of him
The blandest food makes her sick
More spice, more spice, she insists
He’d carefully analyze the forbidden
Once you see it, you can’t unsee it
Once you say it, it’s never unsaid
Never enough time, time slips by


Vitriolic soldiers, venal politicians
impress themselves with the justice of their cause
After victory they’ll throw the enemy corpses in the river
We’ve seen it all before, they call it democracy
They’ll make themselves popular, yes they will
They’ll celebrate the innocence of children in speeches
They’ll make a show of help for the old in the public square,
and in front of the television cameras they’ll hand out baskets of sweets
They’ll give themselves medals of honor,
make speeches and get rich and for years
their mediocrity will prevail
like a series of scratches, one itch after another
Death is a terrible thing without pity
Nature is essentially cruel
The river runs over the innocent and the dead
These ashes aren’t my mother, this dust isn’t me


He would pursue the butterflies and knew
you can hold their shapes in an instant, their vividness,
their ancient colors, their spines, in a net and with pins
They’re shape changers just like him
We escaped the Bolsheviks, then the Nazis,
each by a matter of hours
She never said essential things about
the wind, changeability, her death, or my father
The Rabbi sits on the couch with the
grief of the children next to him,
with dignity, kindness, comfort, and sympathy, he knows
this isn’t a time for his philosophy or empty explanations
Failure is the boundary
Our shape changers make these masks, those freaks
If we realize some good things alive, we seek for concordance,
the invisible, the absurd, the bizarre, the unique


He valued each person he talked to
Don’t worry, this time you’re perfectly safe
He would rather hurt inside than hurt you
This life has too many hurts
The violence of fatigue, separation
Failure by fatigue isn’t predictable precisely
We only really know how long it will last
when it breaks
He barely knew them and didn’t remember their names
Concrete floors pound his feet all day
He carries 50 lbs. bags of chemical alloys,
inhales the foul air,
and will last until he breaks
Here’s what’s true –
he left faint marks in red clay and then
changed shape


-July 29, 2012-