Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet,
Roy G Biv twists through myriad prisms.
Slow wavering is red, a fast flutter is violet,
and sandwiched between infra and ultra,
between radio waves and cosmic rays
is our wafer of visibility.
Bees see ultra violet and vipers sense infra red
and we stumble in between,
blind as a bat to most of the universe.
Yet it’s neither bee nor viper nor even bat but only we
who discern the segue shades of gray.
Minute Hope, Hourly Desire
Years ago the hours and minutes stopped somewhere between 12 and 12.
The glass was too scratched to see exactly where,
and he was too drunk to care precisely when.
But he has rewound, tightened hi metaphorical main spring.
No longer a panhandler,
he seeks to measure his remaining time
with blinking hours, minutes, and seconds
or the graceful sweep of watch hands.
Then passersby instead of pretending to look away
will approach and ask nothing from them.
A panhandler measures days
by meal to meal, drink to drink, fix to fix,
or bankruptcy to bankruptcy.
Yet he’s been sober long enough,
and earned and saved almost enough
for that digital Casio in the drugstore display case.
A Rolex remains a distant dream.
But he rubs his still naked wrist, and hopes.
Defined by Webster’s unabridged as a superficial overlay.
A layer of neural gray cells, a wispy membrane rousing
a dream-walking being into self-awareness.
For when the frog doesn’t even know it exists,
likewise the frog in the jaws of a snake.
Or the snake in the talons of a hawk.
But we can ask why, judge right form wrong,
dream, know we’re dreaming, and fulfill those dreams.
All the threads that weave an immortal soul
rest in a mortal meshwork blanket-thin.
Cloudy New Year’s Morning
Surely last year she left someone or someone left her,
the way she sits on the bench by the 69th street pier,
Slowly tossing crumpled bread to the gulls.
She even tires feeding the manna form her open palms,
but the feathered Israelites refuse her handheld charity,
preferring to peck on the ground.
Thus with downcast eyes and slumping posture
she anoints herself the center of the gull’s attention
and so I move toward her.
And what am I doing here this cloudy New Year’s morning?
We two alone together on a pier so deserted
that even the daily fisherman are absent.
I walk past her and instead of happy new year,
I blurt, “It will be better this year”.
And she raises her head and we’re eye-to-eye.
And I stop. And I hope; and I hope.
But her eyes whisper, “Thanks, but please move on”.
And so I leave, through a flock of grounded gulls
not yet ready to resume soaring.
The Book Of Eternal Life
The book of eternal life is a telephone book.
An updated edition arrives each year.
A divinely diligent editor
skims across cheap, thin paper
erasing older names, inserting newer ones
and reshuffling the numbers.
Here in the attic I found an eighty-year-old phone book.
And if I were to dial the number for any name,
I’d get a wrong number, dead air
or a notice of disconnection.
It’s Life that’s eternal, not lives.