He left home suddenly,
Just ahead of the police,
Or the army, whosever day it was
To reach out and torment him.

He left home,
Unread book left open on the couch,
Dishes left unwashed,
Door still open
As if astonished at the turn of events.

He left home
Just ahead of his brother,
Who, running late
Arrived just after the police.

Years later, thinking
Of the gulag,
Thinking of his brother,
He wept, alone,
Longing for the comfort of prison.


In the distance,
I see him coming, the stride
Unmistakable, the smile forgiving,
Even at that distance

He carries the ghosts of my ancestors,
The last of a generation
A link to a past unbidden
And yet desperately sought.

We meet in the middle of the bridge
And embrace
“A hundred grams?” he says,
His eyes, guarded but hopeful.

“You’ll buy me a vodka?”

The road moves easily within the fortress skull

One luck-drenched park bench afternoon
while dust drifted in and out of sunbeam
streams eyes closed I dreamed of living
of love-stained moons and lake-bound swoons
and stars so vast so supreme that only
a poor cosmic speck of a remnant spark
unremembered could hope to comprehend it
of the gravity of gravity and all the loose
and hellbound distance between here and now and now
and then the slow sloping dip of the long trip
at a whim an ungrim wager with fate I dreamed
of how in old age our deciduous dreams their bones
still seductive nudge us toward a place arriving
at which we can only look back helpless bemused.


After hours of fitful turning,
Georgie fell to sleeping,
The rasping cough too strenuous
The light too ambiguous,
His eyelids too large to will open

In his dream,
All that ever was and all that shall be
Converged on him, and he saw the limitless
And held it close to his heart

He saw the child’s Christmas, one with
Rubble-strewn streets and bomb-laced
Windows, the spanking cry of new-born
Wrinkled joy, one with tear-washed dead lips
Of a life, spent and discarded, brushed aside

He saw the stars, new and old, explode eternally,
Worlds awash with life and others bereft of it
And tiny, forlorn pulses in ancient crevices,
Which would have been long forgotten
Had anyone ever known of them.

He could see them all, and all seemed dear,
The sublime and the petty,
The ecstasy and the torment,
Down to the final finalness, indistinguishable
From the beginning

Even down to the last corner of the vastness,
Down to the last lonely planet
Where Georgie lay on the gurney,
The sheet pulled over his unblinking face.