False idylls

Ah, we say, what a life!
and yet …

We are the heirs of discontent
we carry all colors among us
to their inevitable conclusion

Our eyes are rising swiftly
under an aging sun

What nourished our forebears
we find merely annoying
All those Bible Prophets mute
as sacks of sand

To build dikes against
a flood which never comes
and yet …

here we stand
precisely in their footpads

Gulags

I

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.

II

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?”

An age of witness

Some coffee, some cake,
and settle in while
the kettle cools, and
don’t forget to make it
gluten free,

while you scroll through
images of devastation,
death and destruction,

your in-text finger
itching for action.

Another sip
— is it too early for wine?
Such corporate misbehavior
must be punished, and here,
a public figure, untrue, imperfect.

Some semblance of decorum
must be maintained, if for
no other reason than
to provide a benchmark for outrage.

Outside, daylight
is dying.

How swiftly came the killing season

How swiftly came the killing season
swept in from hinterlands
just when we had remarked upon
the sameness of it all.

How soon the must-not-be-named
became quotidian.
Weren’t we standing there,
thinking how sensible

not to raise a ruckus,
how preferable to simply
turn our backs to the foul wind?

How did we come to this?
Didn’t we say how better we were?
What comfort are platitudes
now?