Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekly Worded


To name anything precisely
is easy as counting the hours
you have left on this earth.

Nothing is how you started
and everything lies between
one moment and the next.

Scientists measure distance
they can’t actually see
using years, and though light

races at an agreed upon speed,
life can only theoretically
arrive at any destination

by overtaking itself
in the spectrum of time,
which is precisely how

people count the days,
the longest possible view
any mirror will allow.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekly Worded

Survey of the Americas

A tractor pulled alongside my pickup while I waited at an intersection for the
light to change. There was a tapping on the top of my car. I opened the sunroof.
“Excuse me,” a voice inquired from above. I tried for a glimpse of the face attached
to that voice but I could see no one. “Yes?” I replied. “Could you tell me, por favor,
what is your opinion on the legal status of illegal workers in America?” I could tell
that I might be dealing with a man of Latino origin, possibly a true representative
of the transient population. “To whom am I speaking?” I asked. “I’m sorry,” he said,
“my name is Manuel Labor, and I’m conducting a survey on behalf of the people.”
“Which people?” There was a pause in which I heard a baby crying while a Mariachi
band played music in the background. “I’m sorry,” he repeated, “I represent the
huddled masses, earning to be free.” “Are you sure you don’t mean yearning to be
free?” “Yes, of course, I’m sorry, my English is not so good, but my people are
yearning far less than minimum wage.” I interrupted: “I think this time you mean
earning less than minimum wage, not yearning.” There was another awkward pause.
The light changed. Cars honked. People shouted insults that I won’t even repeat.
Just then Manuel (if that was his real name) let loose the foulest barrage of foreign
expletives, though I have no way of knowing for sure, since I only speak English.
And all this at such a small intersection, our opinions so close to colliding.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekly Worded

Take Two Poems and Call Me In the Morning

The ache I’ve been feeling
is difficult to locate.
It could be sinuses, a stiff neck,

or even my back, but it also could be
larger, a kind of poetic ache
that originates in the soul

and won’t get any better
until the right words
have been spoken,

which is why I keep a volume
of poetry in the bathroom
beside the medicine cabinet.

It reminds me how deeply
desperation has been felt before.
Sometimes just picking it up

is enough, its warmth
like an old steam radiator
and all I have to do is get close.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekly Worded*

Inner Resources

At the Kennecott mine in Utah
a sign beside the museum door reads,
“In 1906 this was a mountain.”

Now it’s a pit, the largest open-pit
copper mine in the world.
It covers 1,900 acres, reaching

two and a half miles wide,
three-quarters of a mile deep.
At the museum door I’m a hundred

years too late, but imagine how much
hubris is required to behold
this mountain in reverse.

*Weekly Worded is an ongoing attempt to post the best piece of writing that surfaces from a week of work at my keyboard.