A tall shadow controls my autumn pond.
It moves on long legs and will stare and wait.
After the late March ice had come and gone
And the exchanged songs of the frogs that mate,
The lily pads rise through the clear water
To shelter the colonies of black tadpoles
That are born as eggs, like pupil eyes, pure,
And, like the rest here, uncompromising souls.
The summer heat reveals the baby fish
Spawned by the survivors of last winter.
By August it is like my winter wish:
Blooming like some Eden, ready to enter.
The heron knows nothing of what I mean.
By noon it will have picked the pond all clean.
Off with the lid of the fast boiling pot.
With white wine in a glass in my left hand
And with its tail clenched in its repeating knot
And feeling the steam, which it understands,
Is a lobster, tonight’s dinner, in my right.
But all along its thrashing tail and legs
Thick, fresh and glassy in the kitchen’s light
Are thousands upon thousands of her eggs
Expelled as her last act of preservation.
Now above the boiling water she lies,
Claws forced shut, on her back, in my occasion.
Far from home her children cannot survive.
Hungry, interested as an observer,
Like a God, beyond hope or help, I hold her.
The fireflies burn out well beneath the stars
And leave the shadows of the trees around me,
Naked here, in a galaxy at war.
Poolside, in my moon reflection, I will be
Dropping out of this humid world down to
The unexpected.Guillotined to cold;
Feet first with the water closing over you
And then shoving off the pool bottom, old
And stretching out as the new world runs by
Drifting utterly empty, my life gone
In my underwater wake and my eyes
Closed till I hit the wall and stand alone
In the shallow end and I am reborn,
I arise baptized with the coming of the morn.
Here, self-preservation is metaphor:
Two dry riverbeds that run the water
From the neighborhood to the reservoir
Hold the water when it rains, in order
That a semi-septic self-made swamp pond
On two grandfathered acres, that won’t perk,
Might be the birthplace of this flower on
This shallow marsh. Each spring I watch her birth.
The “Blue Flag”, out of the Iris family,
Has a throat of spectacled gold, and grows tall
On a solid single stem; fun, friendly
But at her roots she’s poisonous to all.
Self-preservation, as final duty,
Creates its own narcissistic beauty.
… But it’s one of those days where you start serious and end up with a joke…
The Janitor in the Classroom
I stopped to watch him clean the window glass
And wet mop the floor and make real sure
The day’s questions, unanswered, or unasked
Were washed from blackboards and the doors secured.
“His kids,” he calls them, who went home today;
They live the “life-changing experiment,”
Which is to navigate the unknown way
To save the future which we have not spent.
An old man’s mind makes orderly his past
But lives as the victim of his future.
He washes sinks and wipes the window glass
And prepares the classroom to make sure
The desks line up in geometric rows.
What they will learn will save him, this he knows.
… Oh well, what the hell
You never ever can tell.
If you think that he’s a dope,
We can end this with this joke:
An optimist’s fortune cookie
Tongue twister summary:
Our children are our heirs
Until theirs are theirs.