How to dance

Always the world tilts dangerously
toward the brink, begging only
a finger’s nudge
–all it would take—
deftly moving aside
at the last moment
like a taiji master

a dance so subtle it fools
no one and everyone alike

the world does not end
does not even refuse to end
but continues out of indifference

–Wait – you say – it ended for me
and perhaps you – and I say
no, we are still here
even as we dispute the very
fact of existence, proof, you see,
of our errors

Once I saw Ozymandias

There, in a glass case
in the Cairo Museum
lay Rameses II, who imagined
that all who looked upon
his works would despair.

Desiccated, a shrunken pith
of a man, he reminded me
of nothing else but
the last slab of salted cod
at the closing of the market,
unsold.

Despair, indeed, my king,
but not the way you imagined.

Awakening

To say my father loved Jesus
is as wrong as saying he feared him.
To him, Jesus was a landlord,
a creditor, someone owed a debt,
which, left unpaid, would end in pain,

not only justified but welcomed,
insisted upon, and in the great
tradition of the spawn of Yahweh,
pass on to children and their children,
the unwanted and unearned burden of birthright.

Good morning, says the baptist, and
slaps you on the butt. It’s time
to be fitted for your chains.