Mackinac Bridge

In the center lanes, your tires
whine against the taut steel grid,
five miles of heartache
standing in for gray tarmac,
which knows nothing of music,
and so, stays mute.

In the center, in the heart, you can hear
ballads of the iron workers
who laid the steel across wind-warned
waves, whitecaps straining to reach them,
to pull them down among the generations

of sailing men and women, who,
heedless of candled windows and
widow’s walks,
never came home.

“You belong to me,“ sang the lake,
“you who know no bounds
but sky and steel. I will be your bed,
your limit, your last true lover.
Come to me.”

And they did,
and the bridge, knowing this better
than all the histories of men,
sings with the voices of ghosts
wrung from the iron waves.

Forgiveness

Like not the wayward urge,
taste not the open door;
it’s too early to think of myth,
too late apology.

When was it ever promised
that the world would
spin just so, to please even
the least of us?

Oh, yes, tremble, by all means,
at the darkening sky,
but don’t imagine it’s just for you.
You have not the significance
of the least comma.

The universe stops not
its droning hum to check
your preference, the world suits
neither you nor me,

not the grave winds of change,
nor the plodding steadfast crag;
neither is it what it seems,
and no less are you.

Ritual

Alone in virtual demise,
words swerving through scorched air,
demands of justice colliding
with pure fear, coerced
or otherwise.

Inclination be damned,
maybe the time for fierceness
has come and gone,
-too many dead,
too many still living –
shall we stand up to each other
as easily as we stand together
when it costs nothing?

Out of the wild

My poor broken child,
Has life been unkind?
Is there no one to lift you?

Your time, it’s true, was dark
A world of silhouettes, cigarette smoke,
A place where light faltered,
Intimidated, burdened
With the smell of whiskey.

The wind blew tough at night,
When only fear lit the path ahead.

So here we are, the last of us,
Swizzle-eyed and weary,
Our wounds only for imagining;

I find these signs vexing.
Into the night with us, then
Let’s take what we can carry,
Let the rest decay.

A Mothers Day poem

In winter, the stars
Can suck the light
Right out of the sky.
It must have been like that
The night I was born
In the camp,
Although I had no clue
About that kind of thing.

My brothers, already ancient
Thought the bombed-out
Staircases, leading only up
And nowhere else,
Were built that way on purpose,
For them to play on,
And inevitably jump or fall,
Gravity victorious after all.

Children can’t be disappointed,
Having expected nothing.
Children think hunger
Is normal, pain is life,
And deprivation obvious.

Mothers aren’t like that.
They only wish their children
Could long for something.